One of my favorite stops at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield.
The Thirty-third Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in the month of September, 1861, by Colonel Chas. E. Hovey, and mustered into the United States service by Captain T. G. Pitcher, U. S. A.
September 20, moved to Ironton, Mo., via St. Louis. Remained at Ironton during the winter, with occasional scouts into the country. On one of these the battle of Fredericktown was fought – Company A on skirmish line. March 1862, moved, with the command of General Steele, southward, passing into Arkansas at Pitman’s Ferry, and marching, via Pocahontas and Jacksonport, to Batesville, where it joined General Curtis’ army; thence, via Jacksonport, Augusta and Clarendon, to Helena.
July 7, at Cache creek, or Cotton Plant, several companies participated in a battle with Texas rangers, in which Company A rescued and brought off a field piece belonging to our cavalry. The rebels had a large number killed, and were pursued for some miles. According to our official report one hundred and twenty three rebel dead were found on the main battlefield, and a number were killed in the pursuit. Seven were killed and fifty-seven wounded on the Union side; none killed in the Thirty-third.
During July and August were camped 20 miles south of Helena, and engaged in eight expeditions up and down the river.
September 1, was moved up the river to Sulphur Springs, and thence to Pilot Knobb, where it arrived in the middle of the October, 1862.
November 15, was moved to Van Buren, Ark., in Colonel Harris’ Brigade, Brigadier General W.P. Benton’s Division, of General Davidson’s Corps. Made winter campaign in southeast Missouri, passing through Patterson, Van Buren, Alton, West Plains, Eminence and Centreville, and returned to Bellevue Valley, near Pilot Knob, about March 1,1863.
The Thirty-third was then ordered to Ste. Genevieve, Mo., where, with the command, it embarked for Milliken’s Bend, La. Attached to the First Brigade, First Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, it was engaged in all its battles, participating in the battles of Port Gibson, Champion Hill, Black River Bridge, assault and siege of Vicksburg, and the siege of Jackson.
April 28, in company with a large force, embarked and ran down to Grand Gulf, where we watched next day the five-hours fight between the gun-boat fleet and the rebel batteries. The fleet having failed to silence the rebel guns, the troops marched across the bend to the river below, and the fleet ran past during the night, through a heavy fire, which however did but little injury even to the frail transport boats.
Next day, April 30, again embarked, ran down the river some miles and landed on the Mississippi side. May 1, the Regiment opened the fight on both the right and the left of the field; and the Thirteenth Corps mainly fought and won it. Four companies of the Thirty-third under Major Potter deployed as skirmishers on the left, developed the position of the enemy, and drew an artillery fire, holding the position until relieved by General Osterhans’ Division.
Next morning, May 2, entered Port Gibson without further resistance, found the suspension bridge across the bayou burned; and the Thirty-third built, in four hours, a practicable floating bridge, over which the army marched.
On the 16th was fought the battle of Champion Hill.
The First Division was held in reserve until near the close, but was in the advance is the pursuit, and pressed the enemy closely until dark, when it halted at Edwards’ Station, and captured there a quantity of stores. Early in our advance, two men in Company C were killed by a stray or accidental shot.
At daybreak, May 17, were in motion, the Thirty-third leading the advance and mostly deployed as skirmishers. Before 7 A.M., were engaged with the rebel works in front of the bridge and trestle at Black River. At about 10 A.M., a grand charge swept the enemy out of their works, capturing many hundreds of prisoners. Seventeen pieces of artillery were taken, fourteen of them being first seized by men of the Thirty-third Regiment. Company B was detailed to escort the captured cannon to Haines’ Bluff.
May 19, first saw the fortifications at Vicksburg, moved up through the valleys under their fire, and at one time had preliminary orders to join in Sherman’s partial assault, but received no final order to charge. Details took part in the fighting as sharpshooters. May 20, Captain Norton was wounded by a “spent ball,” and Captain Kellogg was killed.
May 22, joined in the grand assault. Three companies were sent out as sharp-shooters, and Company B was on detached duty, leaving six companies to charge in line – probably not exceeding two hundred and fifty men. Seventy-five or six of these – nearly one third were hit, twelve being killed on the field and several mortally wounded. Reached the rebel works, tent were repulsed with the rest of the army; and at nightfall withdrew to a less exposed position, and began the six weeks’ siege.
June 1, a careful compilation of losses since crossing the river showed nineteen of the Regiment killed in action, and one hundred and two wounded, of whom ten had already died in hospital. Some additional loss was suffered during the rest of the siege. July 4 came the welcome surrender of the rebel stronghold and its garrison of over thirty thousand men.
Again no time was wasted in ceremony. July 5, marched with the main army to Black River to oppose General Johnston; and by the 10th had pushed the enemy back to Jackson. On the night of the 16th the place was evacuated. After tearing up the railroad tracks for some miles, returned to Vicksburg July 24.
In August, moved to New Orleans with the Thirteenth Corps. In October, with Brigade of Colonel Shunk, Eighth Indiana, Major General C. C. Washburne’s Division, and Major General O. C. Ord’s Corps, engaged in the campaign up the Bayon Teche. Returned to New Orleans in November. Thence ordered to Brownsville, Texas, but, before landing, was ordered to Aransas Pass. Disembarked on St. Joseph Island, marched up St. Joseph Island and Matagorda Island to Saluria, participating in the capture of Fort Esperanza. Thence moved to Indianola and Port Lavaca.
The First Brigade, while on the main land of Texas, was commanded by Brigadier General Fitz Henry Warren.
January 1, 1864, the Regiment re-enlisted as veterans, and March 14 reached Bloomington, Illinois, and received veteran furlough.
April 18,1864, Regiment was reorganized at Camp Butler, Illinois, and proceeded to New Orleans, via Alton and St. Louis – arriving 29th, and camping at Carrolton.
May 17, ordered to Brashear City, La. Soon after its arrival the Regiment was scattered along the line of the road, as guard, as follows: company F, C and K, at Bayou Boeuf; Company I, Bayou L’Ours; Company A and D, Tigerville; Company G, Chacahoula; Company E, Terre Bonne; Company B, Bayou Lafourche and Bayou des Allemands; Company H, Boutte. Regimental Headquarters, Terre Bonne. The District was called the “District of Lafourche,” commanded by Brigadier General Robert A. Cameron, Headquarters at Thibodaux.
September 17, 1864, the non veterans of the Regiment were started home, via New York City, in charge of rebel prisoners, and mustered out at Camp Butler, about October 11, 1864.
March 2,1865, ordered to join the Sixteenth Army Corps. Near Boutte Station the train was thrown from the track, and nine men – five of A, three of D, and one of G – were killed; and no less than seventy two more were enumerated by name and description as more or less injured, many of them very severely, two or three of whom subsequently died in hospital, and others were discharged from service disabled. The heaviest loss in wounded fell upon Companies A and D – G, E and I coming next in number, and every company suffering more or less, except C and F, which were at the rear of the train.
On the 18th, Regiment embarked on Lake Pontchartrain, for Mobile expedition. Company K, remaining behind to guard transportation, joined the Regiment April 11, at Blakely. Moved, via Fort Gaines and Navy Cove, and landed on Fish River, Ala., and marched with General Canby’s army up east side of Mobile Bay. The Regiment was in the First Brigade, Colonel W. W. McMillan, Ninety-fifth Ohio; First Division, Brigadier General McArthur; Sixteenth Army Corps, Major General A. J. Smith.
March 27. arrived in front of Spanish Fort, the main defense of Mobile, and, until its capture, April 8, was actively engaged. Loss, one killed, two died of wounds, and nine wounded.
After the surrender of Mobile, marched, April 13, 1865, with the Sixteenth Corps, for Montgomery, Alabama, where it arrived on 25th, and encamped on the Alabama River. Here it received the news of Lee’s and Johnson’s surrender, after which its operations were not of a hostile character.
May 10, marched to Selma, and May 17 by rail, to Meridian, Mississippi. Here remained. In the latter part of July the Regiment was filled above the maximum, by men transferred from Seventy-second, One Hundred and Seventeenth, One Hundred and Twenty-second, and One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Illinois.
Moved to Vicksburg., April 14,1865, and remained at that place until mustered out of service, November 24, 1865, and ordered to Camp Butler, Illinois, for final payment and discharge.
December 6, 1865, the enlisted men of the entire Regiment received their final pay, and discharge from the military service, at the hands of Paymaster Maj. Carnahan. The commissioned officers were paid and discharged next day, December 7, 1865; and the Thirty-third Illinois Regiment ceased to exist. Its record of over four years of faithful service was finished.
From first to last, about nineteen hundred and twenty-four names were borne on its muster rolls. The Regiment had three Colonels, six Lieutenant Colonels, and five Majors. Four companies had two Captains each; four had three each, one had four Captains, and one five. Only one of the original field and staff officers belonged to the Regiment at the final discharge- Surgeon Rex. Of the line officers, two only remained who had been officers at the outset – Captains Smith and Lyon – and they had been promoted from Lieutenants; all the other line officers had “risen from the ranks;” as had also the Major, Adjutant and Quartermaster.
The surviving members of the Regiment at this date (1886) are scattered far and wide engaged in various occupations, and with various fortunes. Many have held official stations in civil life. All but a very few have added to the merit of their military record that of an honorable and useful citizenship.
Several Regimental reunions have been held, and the last printed roster shows the post office address of a little over five hundred survivors living in over twenty different States and Territories, one third of them having emigrated west of the Mississippi River.
Illinois Adjutant General’s Report