previous next

No. 7.-report of Capt. Robert H. Sturgess, Eighth Illinois Infantry.

Hdqrs. Eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, Camp near Pittsburg, Tenn., April 8, 1862.
Sir: I have the honor to report the part taken by the Eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteers in the engagement with the enemy on the 6th and 7th instant.

Early in the morning of the 6th heavy firing was heard in the distance, which indicated that an attack was being made by the rebel force near the right center of our lines. At 7.30 a. m. the Eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, James M. Ashmore, senior captain, commanding, was drawn up in line of battle on the regimental parade. Soon the regiment, in common with other regiments of the First Brigade, Col. A. M. Hare, of the Eleventh Iowa Volunteers, commanding, moving by column of companies, was ordered to take position in line of battle on a ridge running perpendicular to the front of the camp line of the Second Brigade. From some misunderstanding the 8th took position on the left of the Eighteenth Illinois and on the left of the brigade, which was kept during the day. In taking the position assigned it the regiment moved in good order through a heavy fire from the enemy, losing several men. Immediately after forming in line, the left resting in an open field, Captain Ashmore,commanding, was slightly wounded, and leftthe field. The command of the regiment devolved on Capt. William H. Harvey, of Company K, second in rank, and then acting lieutenant-colonel, who in a few moments received a shot through his body, killing him instantly, while gallantly leading and stimulating the men by his noble conduct, and displaying the greatest bravery and activity.

At this time the whole line on my right gave way and had fallen back some distance before I was made aware of the fall of the brave Captain Harvey. Knowing that I was next in rank, I immediately as. [127] sumed command, and gaining an open field directly to the left and rear, and assisted by the company commanders, I succeeded in rallying the regiment, and ordered it to fall back a short distance and take position behind a fence, with the open field between my line and the enemy. In a few moments the enemy appeared in force on the opposite side of the field, with the evident design of charging upon our lines, but receiving a severe enfilading fire from the Seventh Illinois Volunteers, posted on the left behind a fence running perpendicular to my line, and a destructive fire from our lines, they immediately retreated into the woods.

Receiving an order to move the regiment by the right flank, file right, for several hundred yards, I took position on the left of the division, immediately in front of a rebel battery of ten guns, which played upon our lines for an hour with but little damage, although the infantry annoyed us greatly. I was again ordered to the right, to support a battery planted in the open woods. The enemy made a desperate charge upon this battery, but our men, falling back a few yards rallied, and drove the enemy back with great loss. The Eighth and Eighteenth Illinois were advancing slowly, and the enemy retiring, when the regiment on my right was driven back, leaving my flank exposed to an enfilading fire from the enemy. Our men, seeing their peril, immediately fell back in disorder, and the company officers lost control of their men from the promiscuous mingling together of the different regiments. After retreating about a mile I succeeded in rallying a portion of the regiment, and took up position on the right of the Fortieth Illinois Volunteers, and remained on the field during the night.

On the morning of the 7th I was again ordered to the right to support a battery, after reaching which I advanced to support a regiment to me unknown. The enemy, seeing re-enforcements coming up, retreated. Taking position immediately in the rear of that regiment, Captain Leib's company, B, was deployed as skirmishers. Moving rapidly to the front about 400 yards, and no enemy being discovered, I moved farther to the right, and took position with my right resting on the Purdy road.

While awaiting orders General Crittenden ordered the Eighth and Eighteenth Regiments to take a rebel battery, which some regiment had endeavored to capture, but had been driven back with heavy loss. The men received the order with a cheer, and charged on a double-quick. The enemy, after firing a few shots, abandoned his guns and retreated to the woods. My color-bearer rushed up and planted his colors on one of the guns, and the color-bearer of the Eighteenth took possession of another. There was a portion of a regiment, to me unknown, on the left, but it did not come up until we had possession of the battery. Captain Reed, of the Eighteenth Illinois, assisted by Captain Wilson, of the same regiment and several others, turned the guns upon the enemy, and fired several shots into his ranks with fatal effect, causing him to retreat in disorder, and leaving us in possession of the field. We kept this position until the day was won, and our victorious brigade, having fougi t valiantly, was ordered to its accustomed camp, under command of Col. M. Crocker, of the Thirteenth Iowa Volunteers, Col. A. M. Hare having been wounded early in the action, and left the field.

Under circumstances so inauspicious I can but say that the conduct of the officers and men of the regiment, except in a few individual cases, was highly satisfactory and commendable. Where all acted the noble part it were invidious to mention individual daring and courage. Captains Leeper, Company A, and Wheaton, Company E, were severely [128] wounded, and left the field. Lieutenants Shaw, Company H; Monroe, Company A, acting adjutant; McClung, Company K, and Smith, Company I, were each wounded, severely enough to leave the field. Lieutenant Taylor was upon the field on Sunday without any of his company, it having left the field. To him I am indebted for valu able assistance during the action. Lieutenant Caldwell, Company Eb acting as aide-de-camp on General Oglesby's staff, also rendered me much service.

The regiment went into action with 23 commissioned officers and 453 enlisted men, and had 23 killed on the field, 91 wounded, and 3 missing. Inclosed is a list of the names of those killed, wounded, and missing.1

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

Robert H. Sturgess, Captain Company H, Commanding Eighth Illinois Volunteers. C. Cadle, Jr., Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen. First Brigade, First Divisios

1 Nominal list omitted; but see revised statement on p. 100, and division return on p. 123.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: