One Hundred and Twenty Third Illinois Infantry

    To this regiment Cumberland County contributed more men than to any other one in the service, save, perhaps the Fifth Cavalry. Company B was the one formed entirely in this county, and was enlisted by Capt. Talbott in the latter part of June, 1862. Mr. Talbott, while a democrat and sympathizer to some extent with the general sentiment opposed to the war, still felt that the cause of republican form of government was at stake in the issue, and deemed this the paramount interest. He was deeply engaged in business which commanded his whole time and attention and had no thought of going to the war. Enlist­ments were languid; recruiting officers were drumming up a man here and there, but there was no general disposition to join the army. But during this time, men frequently said to Mr. Talbott, you would take out a company I would enlist.” So frequently was this said that the Captain one Sunday gave out that if a company could be organized promptly he would undertake it and go to the field, On the Sunday following he reached camp at Mattoon with 101 men, and all were mustered. This became Company B of the One Hundred and Twenty Third Infantry.
The officers of the company were: Captains Edward Talbott, till April, 1864; Mahlon Votaw, till mustered out; First Lieutenants Lemnel Leggett, till August, 1863; Marlin Votaw, till April, 1864; B. C. Talbott, till mustered out; Second Lieutenants Charles Conzet, till September, 1864. This regiment was enlisted principally in Coles, Cumberland and Clark counties, and was mustered into service September 6, 1862. At this time Bragg was making his famous raid through Kentucky to reach Indiana, and the Illinois regiments were hurried to Louis­ville as fast as practicable. The One Hundred and Twenty Third was ordered to this point as soon as mustered in, and was assigned to the Thirty Third Brigade, Tenth Division, Army of the Ohio, Gen.. Terrell commanding the brigade, Jackson the division, and McCook the corps. Here the regiment remained until Gen. Buell, on the 1st of October, began the pursuit of Bragg, who began to retire after being foiled of his main object. In the operations thus begun the regiment marched through Taylorville, Bloomfield and Mackville, and engaged in the battle of Perryville- The One Hundred and Twenty Third virtually opened the fight. McCook, supposing from certain movements of the rebel cavalry that the enemy was retreating and did not mean to fight, instructed Gen. Terrell to move his brigade cautiously toward the creek, and if no enemy was found to allow the men to stack arms and supply themselves with water, for the want of which they were suffering greatly. The One Hundred and Twenty Third was then in the lead, but, deploying in line of battle with bayonets fixed, the brigade cautiously advanced, only to discover that the cavalry movement was only a ruse on the part of the enemy, and to be met by a terrible destructive fire from the heavy line of the enemy's infantry. Gen. Terrell was riding near the left of this regiment, and near by a new battery advancing with the general line. The first fire demoralized the battery, slaughtering the horses and stampeding the men. Terrell feeling the emergency, but forgetting the duties of his position, dismounted from his horse, and with the aid of one or two battery men and six men detailed from Company B, seized one of the abandoned guns and brought it into position, the General sighting and firing the gun some four rounds over the prostrate Company B. At this point the General ordered a charge, and Companies B and D sprang forward to obey the command. The right of the regiment failed to get the word, and Company D noticing the failure halted before reaching the enemy and retired. Company B, however, rushed right on over the intervening space of some 200 yards, cleared the fence of the enemy and pushed some thirty yards beyond before it delivered its first fire. Here, finding itself enfolded by the enemy's fire and unsupported, the company rapidly retired, preserving its order, however. Aiming at its original position it found the brigade broken and gone. Continuing its retreat the company formed behind some other troops and did not see much further engagement in that fight, but losing in this short fight twenty one men in killed, wounded and missing. Here Generals Terrell and Jackson were both killed. From this point the regiment moved with the army, passing through Danville, Leb­anon and New Market to Mumfordsville, where it remained several weeks guarding the construction of a bridge which had been destroyed. The regiment then proceeded to the Cumberland River, going into camp at Ludlow Creek, about eight miles above Nash­ville. In December, under command of Gen. Reynolds, the One Hundred and Twenty Third took part in the expedition after Gen. Morgan, returning to within a short distance of Mumfordsville when the pursuit was abandoned, and a return was made by forced marches to Nashville, arriving in the early part of January, 1863. The regiment was at once moved to the front, a little south and east of Murfreesboro, where it remained until the general advance in June. In the meanwhile the One Hundred and twenty-third was mounted and armed with Spencer rifles, and scarcely an interval of ten days elapsed between the various expeditions in which the regiment was engaged. These lead to the towns of Lebanon, McMinnville, Liberty, Alexandria, etc., and involved heavy skirmishes. The One Hundred and Twenty Third was here assigned to Gen.. Wilder’s Brigade of Thomas’ Corps, and in the general advance of the army in the latter part of June, led the advance of its brigade. Alight force of the enemy was driven rapidly back to Hoover’s Gap, where followed a brisk skirmish, and pressing on, the regiment captured a company of the rear guard of the enemy at Manchester. From June 24 to 28, the brigade moved on the flank of the Fourth Division, cutting the railroad at Dechard, and driving the enemy from the stockade. In this vicinity the brigade remained until August 16, engaged in collecting horses and mules. Company B was detached on one occasion, and found one hundred mules gathered, which they captured and brought in with safety. On another raid towards Columbia the Seventeenth Indiana and the One Hundred and Twenty Third captured 1100 head of horses.
    On the 16th of August the regiment with its brigade crossed the Cumberland Mountains and Waldron’s Ridge to Poe’s tavern, forded the Tennessee River, and moved in advance of Crittenden’s Corps towards Riuggold; on the 11th struck the enemy at Tunnel Hill and on the following day moved back towards Gordon’s Mills. Two days of light skirmishing were followed by two days of quiet, and and on the 17th the enemy began to feel the line of the Union forces. On the 18th the One Hundred and Twenty Third was engaged at times pretty heavily. By a flank movement of the army the regiment was placed on the extreme right and was pretty severely handled. On the 19th and 20th though placed in reserve it was brought into the fight several times and heavily engaged. On the retreat of the army toward Chattanooga, the One Hundred and Twenty Third made a halt in the gorge of the mountain commanding the valley and Company B picketed the point that night. After this fight the One Hundred and Twenty Third with Wilder’s Brigade proceeded to Friar’s Ford. On October 1, in company with the First and Second Brigades of Cavalry, the One Hundred and Twenty Third and its brigade, under command of Gen. Crook, started in pursuit of Wheeler. Crossing Walden’s Bridge the regiment moved through Sequatchie to the summit of the Cumberland Mountains on to McMinnville and Farmington. Here the One Hundred and Twenty— Third came upon the enemy strongly posted and had a determined fight, driving the enemy from the field at last. From this point the expedition pursued Wheeler until he crossed the Tennessee River, when the pursuit was abandoned. The regiment then went into camp at Maysville, and remained several weeks. From this point, the regiment moved to Pulaski, Tenn., and thence to Moresville, where it served the army in collecting stores for the army at Chat­tanooga. In the last of March, 1854 the regiment was ordered to Columbia, Tenn., to get the advantage of the fine grazing in that country for their horses, Captain Talbott commanding the regiment while there.
    In April, the regiment rejoined the army at the front and took part in the Atlanta campaign. The regiment proceeded to Lafay­ette, Ga., thence through a series of movements and skirmishes to Dallas; thence to Marietta, on July 3, to Cross Keys on the 17th, to Decatur, and Atlanta. In September, it took part in the cavalry movements about Atlanta, and in October, was engaged in watching the movements of Hood. In the spring of 1865, the regiment was assigned to Gen. Wilson’s command, and, on the 2d of April, took part in the capture of Selma, Ala.; on the 9th, crossed the Alabama River and marched through Montgomery, Columbus, and entered Macon, Ga. In the latter part of May, it was ordered to Chatta­nooga, and thence to Nashville, and on June 28, 1865, was mustered out of the service.

One Hundred and Thirty Fifth Illinois Infantry

Company I of this regiment was composed principally of men from Cumberland County. Its officers were: M. A. Ewing, Captain; J. T. Ewing, First Lieutenant; T. J. -Matthews, Second Lieutenant. This regiment was mustered into the service for one hundred days on June 6, 1864, and was mustered out September 28, 1864. This regiment was ordered to Little Rock, Ark., and served its term on duty there.


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