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3rd Illinois Calvary History
McLean County, Illinois
Information provided by: Sara Hemp
Transcribed by: Teri Moncelle Colglazier
The third calvary was composed of twelve companies, coming together from various localities in the State. Company A, was raised in Sangamon, Company B, in Tazewell, Company C, in Cass, Company D, in Bond, Company E, in Saline and Gallatin, Company F, in Adams, Company G, in Brown, Company H, in Fulton, Company I, in McLean, Company K, in Livingston, Company L, in Macoupin, Company M, in Christian and adjoining counties, making a grand total of company officers and enlisted men, under the first organization, of 1,433.
The Regiment was organized at Camp Butler, in August 1861, by Colonel Eugene A. Carr, an officer of the regular army, and graduate of West Point, where it remained under instruction in drill and the school of the soldier, until the 25th of September, at which date the Regiment moved to St. Louis, Mo.
On the 1st of October the Regiment advanced to Jefferson City, and from thence marched to Warsaw, where it arrived on the 11th, capturing a large store of supplies. Remaining in camp building a bridge across the Osage River, which, being completed, the march was continued on the 23d in the direction of Springfield, Mo., in Colonel Carr's Brigade, Brigadier General Asboth's Division, under the personal command of Major General Fremont. Soon after arriving at Springfield, on the 2d of November, Major General Hunter assumed command of the army, superseding General Fremont, who had been in command just one hundred days.
November 13th, the First and Second Battalion of the Third Cavalry, retired to Rolla, Mo., with the army. The Third Battalion, in command of Major Ruggles, remained with General Siegel's Division, scouting and protecting the rear of the retreating army, being the last to leave Springfield to the occupancy of the enemy.
The Regiment arrived at Rolla on the 19th of November, and remained until the 29th of December, when it moved in the advance of General Curtis' army, for Springfield and the southwest.
Tarrying a few days at Camp Ruggles, the Regiment, with Colonel Carr's Division, arrived at Marshfield on the 11th of February, a small force of the enemy fleeing before it. On the 13th, the Regiment went into camp, about eight miles from Springfield, when Major Ruggles asked and obtained leave to advance with his Battalion four miles further on, where the enemy was met, and the first engagement fought, and the first victory won in the Curtis campaign, by the Third Battalion of the Third Cavalry.
On the 14th the army occupied Springfield, General Price and his army fleeing to the south. On the 15th our forces come up on the retreating army at Crone Creek, and captured some prisoners. On the 15th, at Sugar Creek, the Third Battalion participated in a cavalry charge, routing the enemy.
On the 20th, the Third Battalion marched to Cross Hollows, Arkansas, where a portion of the army remained until the 5th of March. On that afternoon our scouts encountered an overpowering force advancing on Cross Hollows. Couriers were at once sent to Colonel Vandever's Brigade at Huntsville, and to General Siegel's Division at Bentonville (who was already engaged with the enemy), notifying them to concentrate forces at Pea Ridge.
Our army supplies at Cross Hollow were burned and destroyed, and during that cold and dreary night we fell back on Pea Ridge. On the 6th we were getting ready for the battle that was soon to be fought, meanwhile Vandever's Brigade, with the First and Second Battalion of the Third Cavalry, arrived in the evening, after a long and tedious march of 48 miles, and General Siegel, being reinforced by Major Ruggles Battalion, had fallen back to within three miles of Pea Ridge, forming the extreme left of our forces. Major Ruggles was selected as officer of the day and rode all night posting and visiting the line of pickets, some of whom were driven in during the night by the closing in of the enemy.
At sunrise on the 7th, the battle opened fiercely with artillery and small arms, Siegel being three miles to the left of the main battle ground. The First and Third Battalion in Dodge's Brigade, and the Second in Vandever's Brigade, were engaged all day, doing good service. At the end of the day's battle our forces had been beaten back, our army stores captured, and the night closed in with a gloomy prospect. On the morning of the 8th, General Siegel having defeated the enemy in his front, moved up and joined his forces on the left, supported by Major Ruggles' Battalion.
The artillery opened all along our line, and soon the enemy became badly demoralized and the demoralization ended in a rout and stampeded in all directions, giving us the field and the victory before noon of that eventful day.
In this three days desperate struggle against three times our number of men, the Third Cavalry performed its full share in the achievement of the victory, losing 10 killed and 40 wounded.
A week later the Third Cavalry, in command of General Asboth, made a flying visit to Fayetteville, Ark., driving out the enemy from that place.
On the 19th the Cavalry, with the army, moved back to Keitsville, Mo., where Lieutenant Colonel McCrellis, who had been absent for some time, and Major Hubbard, joined the Regiment. On the 10th of April went into camp for a few days at Forsyth. On the 29th arrived at West Plains, and on the 3d of May went into camp at Batesville, Ark. On the 14th moved to Little Red River. On the 25th, in crossing White River, Captain McClellan, of Company H, a brave and gallant officer, with five enlisted men, were drowned by the overturning of the ferry boat - a sad calamity.
On the 4th of June the Regiment fell back to Fairview. On the 7th Captain Sparks and 66 men were surrounded by 300 of the enemy's Cavalry, but cut their way out, losing four wounded and four taken prisoners. On the 11th the Regiment returned to Batesville, and moved on to Jacksonport.
On the 5th of July the Cavalry, with the army, began its march for Helena, following down the course of White River, and arrived at its destination on the 15th, after ten days of marching, fighting, starving and famishing for water, our supplies and communications being cut off and the country having been laid waste by the enemy.
During the long encampment at Helena, the Regiment participated in many raids, scouts, and foraging expeditions. Of the notable incidents, Captain Kirkbride made a raid on the St. Francis River, and Lieutenant Colonel Ruggles, with five companies, accompanied General Washburn in his expedition to Grenada, Mississippi-the object being to destroy railroads and bridges in rear of the enemy who were at the time being driven back by General Grant in the direction of Holly Springs. The raid was successful, but General Grant changed his plans-turned back- and we had to fall back on Helena in double-quick time.
The long stay at Helena proved to be demoralizing and disastrous. The place was sickly, from malaria and bad water, and the men languished with disease and inactivity.
On the 23d of December the Regiment (excepting Companies E and G), under command of Lieutenant Colonel Ruggles, embarked on transports, joining the forces moving on Vicksburg, under the command of Major General W. S. Sherman.
Arriving at Chickasaw Bayou, the Regiment was detailed for picket duty and escorts for Commanding Generals, and did good service in the disastrous attack on Haines' Bluff, Companies A, K, L and M, in command of Captain Carnahan, being the last to embark after the battle.
Retiring from the Bayou, the Regiment moved up the river with the expedition in command of General McClernand, in its advance on Arkansas Post, where a lively battle was fought, 5,000 prisoners captured, and valuable service rendered by the Third Cavalry, which returned with the victorious army to Vicksburg.
In February 1863, on account of high water interfering with cavalry operations, General Grant ordered five companies, with the Colonel and headquarters, to Memphis. From this time on the Regiment was decimated and crippled somewhat in its efficiency. Company L, was assigned as escort to Major General McClernand, and Companies A, G, K and E, in command of Captain Carnahan, were assigned to duty under Brigadier General P. J. Osterhaus, in the Eighteenth Army Corps. This Battalion took an honorable part in the battles of Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Black River Bridge, and the siege of Vicksburg.
On the 16th of August the Battalion reported for duty to Major General Banks, and was assigned to Brigadier General Lee's Cavalry Division, taking part in the Western Louisiana campaign, and at Vermillionville, Opelousas and Carrion Crow Bayou. In December Major O'Connor took command of the Battalion, and moved to Port Hudson, and from thence to Memphis, again joining the Regiment, which had, since leaving Vicksburg, been engaged in active service along the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, participating in the battles of Tupelo, Okalona, Guntown, Salem, and other engagements.
In the month of July 1864, a large portion of the Regiment re-enlisted as Veterans. The non- Veterans, in command of Major O'Connor, were placed in charge of the garrison at Germantown. Captain Carnahan commanded a detachment of the Regiment in a scout into Western Kentucky during the month.
On the 21st of August 1864, a large number of the Regiment, whose term of service had expired, embarked on transports for their homes in Illinois, which most of the enlisted men had not seen for three years, accompanied by Colonel McCrellis and Lieutenant Colonel Ruggles, the latter having never been absent from the army since he entered the Regiment. Arriving at their old camp, near Springfield, they were mustered out of service on the 5th of September 1864, many of them disabled by the casualties of war and the ravages of disease.
The Veterans remaining took part in the repulse of General N. B. Forrest in his daring raid on Memphis, on the night of the 21st of August.
August 24 the Veterans were consolidated into six companies, and Captain Carnahan promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
On the 27th of September the Regiment, as re-organized, left Memphis; marched to and crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton, where it confronted Hood's Army. Then it fell back, and took part in the battles of Lawrenceburg, Spring Hill, Campbellsville and Franklin.
On the 15th of December the Regiment was on the extreme right of the First Brigade, Fifth Division, under command of Brigadier General Hatch, when the enemy's left was turned, and was the first to enter the enemy's works.
In January 1865, the enemy having been driven across the Tennessee, the cavalry, under General Wilson, camped at Gravelly Springs, Alabama, and in February moved to Eastport.
In May 1865, the Regiment returned to St. Louis, and from thence went to St. Paul, Minnesota, reporting for duty to Major General Curtis. On the 4th of July started on an Indian expedition, over the plains of Minnesota and Dakota, going north to the British possessions, and from thence returning by way of Devil's Lake and Fort Berthold; thence to Fort Snelling, arriving on the 1st of October, and reaching Springfield, Illinois, on the 18th of October 1865, where it was mustered out of service-the last act in the drama of the Third Cavalry.
As will be seen, the Third Illinois Cavalry, during the fifty months of its service, did some quarreling, some fighting, some raiding and scouting, some ornamental work around headquarters,-possibly too much of that, and it marched more thousands of miles than any one can tell. Some of the boys may have plucked ripe chickens from rebel roosts, and they may have been in at the untimely death of some of the rebel pigs, and they may have done other things not necessary to be mentioned in history,-but in the aggregate of all that was done and accomplished by this military organization, by both officers and men, it may be said in all candor that as a body of patriotic men, as soldiers and citizens, there are deserving well of the State and the Nation.
ORDER OF CONSOLIDATION.
II. In pursuance to Circular No. 36, War Department, A.G.O., the following named commissioned Officers of the Third Regiment Illinois Cavalry Volunteers are hereby designated to remain in command of the veterans and recruits of that organization:
James O. O'Connor, Major
The enlisted men will be consolidated into companies, of the legal maximum standard, and the officers will be assigned to the companies by the commanding officer of the organization.
By order of Major General C. C. Washburn.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD ILLINOIS VETERAN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
I. The parts of companies of this Regiment to remain in service, after the 25th inst., will be temporarily organized as follows, viz:
Company A to be composed of companies K and L.
II. The following named officers are temporarily assigned to the newly organized companies set opposite their respective names, to-wit:
Company A, Captain, R.H. Carnahan
JAMES H. O'CONNOR.
[Illinois Adjutant General's Report - Regimental and Unit Histories - Containing Reports for the Years 1861– 1866]
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