Henry M. Brownfield is one of the old timers of Champaign County and has had his home in this region since early childhood and for a period of more than sixty years. The honor and respect due him are the result not only of long residence, painstaking work and management as a practical farmer, but also to his most creditable record as a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Mr. Brownfield is a native of Missouri, having been born in Shelby County, October 15, 1842. His parents, John R. and Susan (Mullens) Brownfield, were both natives of Kentucky, and were pioneers in north-eastern Missouri, where they married. In 1851 the family came to Illinois and settled eight miles north of Urbana.
Henry M. Brownfield was one of seven children. He obtained his early education by attending an old log school house on the prairie, known as the Peters’ school. He had barely finished his lessons when the war cloud arose, and in the exciting times of 1861, when every youth responded to the call of patriotism, he enlisted at Homer, and was sent to Hannibal, Missouri, where on October 1, 1861, two weeks before his nineteenth birthday, he was sworn into the service of the United States. He remained performing camp duty at Hannibal from October to the following February. Mr. Brownfield was a member of Company F of the Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry.
He was in active service almost continuously throughout the four years of the war. His first service was with Pope’s expedition down the Mississippi River to Island No. 10. He and his comrades fought at New Madrid, Missouri, had a skirmish at Point Pleasant, and were in the Missouri campaign from March 6, to April 6, 1862. Crossing the Mississippi, they captured Rebel prisoners at Island No. 10, and then at New Madrid they took a boat and went to Corinth, landing above Shiloh. They fought at Farmington, near Corinth, and took part in the siege of that Mississippi city. They next followed General Price down to Ripley, returned to Camp Clear Creek, and then had a part in the great battle at luka, Mississippi, where the Union troops won the day. The Union forces there were under the command of General Rosecrans and 400 of the Union command were killed. They fought Price’s command two days at Corinth, on October 3 and 4, 1862, and then followed the retreating Confederates for two days from Corinth. Price made a turn and came back and struck General Hulbert, soon again in retreat, and the Illinois troops captured all his camp equipment. The command in which Mr. Brownfield was a member then returned to Corinth, and soon took up the Vicksburg campaign. Here under Sherman Mr. Brownfield was in some of the notable exploits of the campaign. He was on the transports convoyed down the Mississippi by Porter’s fleet, running past the batteries at Vicksburg, down to the mouth of the Yazoo River and up that stream to Snyder’s Bluff. Here they were in camp until Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Grant. They next took part in the sixteen days’ siege of Jackson, returning to Vicksburg and taking boat for Memphis, and from there went east in the campaign involving the battles of Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga. He was in the battle of Missionary Ridge and was then part of the expedition sent to relieve the besieged Knoxville. After that the troops returned to Chattanooga and from there to Colliersville. On January 4, 1864, Mr. Brownfield reenlisted for the three years or during the war. He had had a long and arduous experience, but was not yet satisfied, and determined to see the war victoriously completed. At his reenlistment he and his comrades were given a thirty days’ furlough and he spent that time pleasantly visiting his Illinois home. He rejoined his command at Colliersville, and was then on the march to the sea with Sherman. Many times he sang the famous sons which celebrated that march, and it is the testimony of Mr. Brownfield that it was much easier to sing it than make the march itself. He fought at Kingston, and at Dallas, Georgia, on May 28th was wounded in the shoulder and jaw and was sent to a hospital. He was given a furlough July 12th, and again went home for thirty days. In November, 1864, he tried to rejoin his command, but got only as far as Chattanooga, where he spent the winter. He was then sent to Nashville, and took boat up the Ohio River. The boat stuck in the ice and the troops were taken off and transported by railroad through Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, to Harrisburg, to Annapolis, Maryland, and there conveyed down the bay and around the sea past Cape Henry and Cape Hatteras, where the vessel encountered a severe gale and he suffered the inclemencies of the rough sea for four days and four nights. The troops were finally landed at Morehead City, North Carolina, fought at Newbern and near Raleigh, and were clearing that district of the remnants of the Confederate Army when peace was declared and the glad tidings of Lee’s surrender were hailed with joy by all the weary soldiers, particularly Mr. Brownfield, who had been out for nearly four years.
On July 2, 1865, the veteran soldier, still not yet twenty-three years of age, was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, and returned home.
During one of his furloughs he had married Miss Elizabeth McClughen. Mrs. Brownfield was born in St. Joseph Township of Champaign County, a daughter of Robertson and Jane (McCammon) McClughen. Her parents were natives of Ohio, and had come to Illinois when quite young and were married in Champaign County. Elizabeth McClughen was one of nine children and she received her early advantages with her brothers and sisters in an old log cabin school house. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Brownfield settled in Urbana. Ten children were born to them, named Oscar M., Clara lona, Susan Orpha, Charles, George, Rosa, Freddie, Grace, Simeon and Jane. Mr. and Mrs. Brownfield gave their children all possible advantages and sent them to the Pleasant Grove school. Again and again have these worthy people experienced the sorrows of mortal life, and one by one they laid their children to rest, until only one now survives. This is the youngest daughter, Jane. She was liberally educated and was a successful school teacher in Champaign County, as was also her husband. She married Norton Mahorney. They have one child, Corrinne Elizabeth, born June 27, 1917, the only grandchild of Mr. and Mrs. Brownfield, and the delight of the entire family.
Mr. and Mrs. Brownfield enjoy a comfortable home in St. Joseph Township, and while the years have brought them many sorrows they have also brought them the satisfaction of efforts extended and the results of fruitful toil. Both are active members of the Christian Church, and in politics Mr. Brownfield is a Republican. He served as constable four years and has always done his part in community affairs.