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Will County Historical Museum and Research Center It's your heritage.

November, 1864 – It’s Not Over Yet

Winter was starting to show its face, but the folks in Will County were smiling. A precious few of their men were back home on furlough. Perhaps just this month there would be no more bad news. Just this month there would be hope.

The election was all the talk back home in Will County. George Woodruff in his book Fifteen Years Ago, Will County in the Civil War describes it.

“In the meanwhile, an exciting political campaign has been going on, and the impending draft was used as a powerful argument against the re-election of Lincoln. But, to use his own homely illustration, the people decided it was no time to swap horses while fording the stream, and he was triumphantly re-elected. The friends of his election held a grand jubilee over the result at Young’s hall, at which time a subscription was made for the benefit of the soldiers’ families, amounting to over $3,000.” (About $44,000 today.)

November was the month that many of the soldiers were back home. We read in the November 9, 1864 Wilmington Independent; “We are glad to see a number of our noble soldier boys belonging to the gallant 39th, and the “Old One-Hundredth” at home. Among the former are Capt. Whipple, late in command of the 39th, Lieut. Kinsbury, Lieut. Burrill, Thomas Rowley and William Baxter. Dr. A. De Normandie, of the 39th, whose residence is at Gardner, has also favored our town and citizens with a call. Samuel Goodridge, Del Fuller, Peter Brodie, Albert Wilkins, James Brofy, Henry Hartman, Jas. Murphy, Francis Conroy, and several others of the 100th, are also here.”

The men still left on the front were more than aware that the war still raged. Woodruff tells us, “The Atlanta campaign under Sherman has ended in the possession of that place by the Union forces, and its partial destruction, and the memorable march to the sea has commenced. Our 100th regiment does not join in this, but returns to Chattanooga, under Thomas, to watch Hood. The 90th and the 64th regiments, Barnett’s battery, and what was left of the 20th, went on to the sea.”

The 100th had yet more bloody battles to fight. In Woodruff’s book we read the journal from an unknown source, “Nov. 1st went on to Stephenson. The next day (3d) we started again, reaching Pulaski, Tenn. on the 5th. On the way to Pulaski we were obliged to cross the Elk River 15 miles south of Pulaski, at a place called Elkton. The stream was 200 yards wide, and in the center was mid-sides to our horses. This was a cold job for a raw November day, but the boys plunged in with a yell, and stepped out with a shout. No boy’s play, this, as the men had to carry their guns and ammunition over their heads, as these must be kept dry whatever else might get wet.”

“Everywhere our army has been followed by an army of speculators, ready to make money out of the sufferings of the country, many of them caring little which side wins, so that they can get rich.We remained at Pulaski until the 22d of November, and in that time were visited by one of Uncle Sam’s peddlers of greenbacks.”

“On the 22d we went to Louisville. Next day quiet. On the 24th we started at 2 a. m., going through Columbia, and began to hear the familiar sound of cannonading and musketry behind us. On the 26th and 27th there was picket firing all day, and about ten o’clock of the night of the 27th, we struck tents and fell back across Duck river, crossing at midnight, and moved to the Franklin pike. On the forenoon of the 29th we marched toward Spring Hill.”

“When within about two miles of Spring Hill, an orderly brought a note to Gen. Stanley, who was riding at the head of our regiment. He took a rapid glance at the note, and ordered “double quick,” to which the 100th responded with a will, actually running one and a half miles, changing by right flank into line of battle, without even slacking their pace; and without halting or wavering to receive the charge of the rebel cavalry who were coming on with drawn sabers, and yelling like demons. But when within about thirty paces, seeing that our lines did not give way, they turned and fled. We pursued them until we met their infantry skirmishers, when we halted and prepared for defense. Here our division repulsed five charges made in quick succession, by the division of the rebel Gen. Clayborne, and maintained our position until 4 o’clock next morning when we quietly withdrew towards Franklin.”

“We arrived at Franklin about noon. We could see Hood’s army marching over the hills, south of us, and watch them form their lines. Then commenced the battle, the enemy charging us in great force about four o’clock. We were compelled to leave the first line, falling back to the second line of works, and there the battle raged till almost nine p. m. The enemy charged the works five times, some of them being killed close on them. The fighting was terrific. The enemy withdrew, having been repulsed each time. Clayborne’s division was nearly annihilated.”

One of the wounded at the battle of Franklin was Major Rodney Bowen from Wilmington. Major Bowen had helped form the 100th and had been with them every inch of the way. As the sun went down on November 30th the ambulance carrying the wounded Major was making its way toward the hospital at Nashville.