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The TENTH ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY was one of the six Regiments called for by the Governor’s order of April 16, 1861. It was formed from the first four companies that reported at Springfield, April 20, 1861, which were ordered to Cairo on the 22nd, and there, with three other Infantry and three Artillery companies, the Regiment was organized, and mustered by Captain John Pope, April 29, 1861, into the United States service for three months, with B. M. Prentiss as Colonel, J. D. Morgan, as Lieutenant Colonel, and Charles H. Adams as Major. The early promotion to a Brigadiership made Morgan Colonel, Adams Lieutenant Colonel and John Tillson Major. Thus organized, it remained at Cairo, doing garrison duty, during its three months service; twice making movements of reconnaissance, one toward Columbus, Ky., and again to Benton, Mo. It enlisted, and was mustered into the three years service, July 29, 1861, by Captain T. G. Pitcher at Cairo; thence was soon removed to Mound City, Ill., where it remained through the winter, taking part in January 1862 in the movement of Grant’s forces toward Columbus and Paducah. In February it was stationed at Bird’s Point, Mo., and while there, March 1, had brisk engagement with Jeff Thompson’s troopers, near Sykeston, Mo., taking several prisoners and two field pieces.
Attached in March to General Pope’s army, in Brigade composed of Tenth Illinois, Lieutenant Colonel Tillson; Sixteenth Illinois, Colonel Smith, and battalion of Yates Sharp Shooters, Lieutenant Colonel Williams, Colonel Morgan commanding in Division of General E. A. Paine. It engaged in the siege of New Madrid. In a night movement, March 12th, advanced on the place, driving in the enemy’s pickets, establishing earth works and planting four field pieces commanding the rebel forts, without raising alarm until daylight, when our fire opened. During next day, lay under fire of the enemy’s two forts and five gunboats; made sorties in which lost one Captain (Carr of Co. H), and two men killed. The place was evacuated during the night. April 7th, crossed the river from New Madrid in the advance of Pope’s Army, intercepted rebels retreating from Island No. 10, bringing to surrender at Tiptonville General Mackall with 2500 men, resulting in the capture of about 6000 men and a large amount of field artillery and small arms. On the 13th of April, embarked on a steamer for Forts Wright and Pillow; returned up Mississippi on 18th, and landed at Hamburg on the Tennessee, April 24.
Took part in movements of Pope’s army in advance on Corinth. Had brisk fight May 3; forced passage through Four Mile Swamp, losing two men killed and five wounded, capturing 15, and killing an equal number of the enemy whom we found and buried. Entered Corinth May 30, and thence pursued the enemy to Booneville. Returned to Corinth and lay in camp at Big Springs during the month of June, and until 21st July, when marched to Tuscumbia, Ala. Aug 31 marched thence via Florence, Athens and Columbia, to Nashville; had five men killed by guerrillas on the march. Reached Nashville Sept. 12, remaining there most of time until July 1863, with occasional movements in the neighborhood. In attack on our lines Nov. 5, had two men killed. Garrisoned Fort Negley. Assigned at this time to Army of Cumberland, Mitchell’s Division, Thomas’ Corps, and in July to Granger’s Reserve Corps.
July 20 marched to New Fosterville, thence Aug. 24 to Bridgeport, Ala. Oct. 1, with Tenth Mich., Sixtieth Illinois and section of Ohio Battery, under command Colonel Tillson, in connection with McCook’s Cavalry, made forced march of 28 miles from Bridgeport up the valley of the Sequatchie, driving Wheeler’s Cavalry out of the valley, where they had raided our supply trains and destroyed nearly 1200 wagons, 110 of them laden with ordnance stores. Camped and fortified in the valley at Anderson’s Cross Roads, and on Oct. 24 went to Igo’s Ferry on the Tennessee. Nov. 24, under General Jeff C. Davis (Division commander), crossed the river on pontoons, supporting Sherman’s attack on Bragg’s right, at Mission Ridge. Closely pursued, on 26th, Hardee’s retreating column, and at Chickamauga Station captured 20 of the rear guard, and scattered the rebel transportation trains. Pushed on to Ringgold – there were sent towards Knoxville, at this time invested by Longstreet. When within 16 miles (On Longstreet’s withdrawal) were ordered to Columbus on the Hiawassee. Returned to Chattanooga, and went into winter quarters at Rossville, Ga.
January 1, 1864, the Regiment re-enlisted as veteran; 394 were mustered as such on the 8th by Capt. C. O. Howard, and they left on the 11th on 30 days furlough for Illinois, rendezvousing at Quincy. Feb. 22d, with 200 recruits added left again for the field, Colonel John Tillson in command. Remained in quarters at Rossville until May 2d, when broke camp and moved with Sherman’s army towards Atlanta. Had stubborn fight on 9th at Buzzard’s Roost and again on 15th at Resaca, where Adjutant Rice was killed. On 16th marched around by Rome, which was taken on the 18th; thence via Dallas rejoined the main army at Ackworth on 3d of June. From then until capture of Atlanta, continued in the forward movements of the army. Lost two men killed and seven wounded June 27 in attack on Kenesaw. At crossing Chattahoochie, July 18, lost several men, Major Wilson and Capt. Munson, Co. H, wounded – the latter losing an arm.
Aug. 20th transferred to Army of the Tennessee, Third Brigade, Colonel Tillson, Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, General Ransom, which, was shortly after changed to Third Brigade, First Division, Seventeenth A.C. – General Mower, Division Commander.
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After fall of Atlanta, camped there until Oct. 4th, when followed Hood northward to Gaylesville, Ala.; thence returned to Marietta, Ga., where received 200 recruits, and from there started on the “March to the Sea” on Nov. 13th. Participated in the movement of the Army of the Tennessee on this march, ending with the taking of Savannah. Prior to the surrender of the city, made march of 50 miles south along railroad, to Walthonsville and the Altamaha river. Remained at Savannah until January 3, 1865, when embarked on transports for Beaufort, S.C.
The Tenth lay at Beaufort from January 9th to 13th, when it moved with the division (Mower’s First Division) to Pocataligo, on Charleston and Savannah Railroad. Remained there until the 30th, attempting on the 20th and 26th to cross the Salkahatchie, but failing on account of high water. On 30th, moved up on right bank of river and effected a crossing at Rivers’ Bridge on the 3d, with a loss of 40 men, the Third Brigade, to which the Tenth was attached, being in the advance and losing about 125 men. The crossing was difficult and obstinately contested, the swamp, a mile wide, and with many streams to cross, the water ice-cold and from one to five feet deep. We were in from 7 A.M. till dark.
General Howard, who was present, pronounced it “the best thing of the war”.
The regiment marched to Midway, on Augusta and Charleston Railroad; 9th, crossed South Edisto at Binicker’s Bridge, throwing a pontoon over in the face of the enemy, and wading, after dark, over one-third of a mile through the “lake”, took the position of the enemy in the flank, drove them from their entrenchments and captured several prisoners and one caisson.
Passed with the army through Orangeburg to Columbia, Winnsboro and Cheraw, skirmishing and destroying railroad, thence to Fayetteville on 11th March. There the regiment was detached to lay pontoon over Cape Fear River, which was done and lodgment effected for a brigade on opposite bank. The enemy’s cavalry was driven back with a loss to them of one Lieutenant and five men killed. Thence, with renewed skirmishing, we pushed toward Goldsboro, and when the Fourteenth Corps was attacked at Bentonville, we joined it by a forced night march, and took part in the battle of the 20th and 21st. On the latter day our division, with the Sixty-fourth Illinois Sharpshooters on the skirmish line, got in on Johnson’s rear and captured part of his headquarters material. Our division successfully resisted the attack of Hardee’s whole corps. The loss of the regiment on this occasion was about 60, 11 killed; and of the brigade, over 100.
The enemy evacuating during the night, the next day moved to Goldsboro, thence to Raleigh. After Johnson’s surrender, moved to Richmond, Fredericksburg and Washington, where participated in the grand review.
Proceeded on the 4th of June to Louisville, Kentucky. Mustered out of United States service July 4, 1865; and received final discharge and pay July 11, 1865, at Chicago, Illinois. During this campaign the regiment was commanded by Lieut. Colonel David Gillespie. The third Brigade by Brevet Brigadier General Tillson. First Division by Major General J. A. Mower until to Goldsboro, and afterwards by Brevet Major General M. F. Force, Seventeenth Army Corps, Major General Frank P. Blair commanding. Army of the Tennessee, Major General O. O. Howard, commanding.