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Ozzy

55th Illinois Diary

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Actually, a diary and extracts from letters, presented in chronological order from 15 September 1861, when Thaddeus H. Capron,  22 years old from Durand Village, Winnebago County enlisted in the 55th Illinois Infantry with many others from his community in Company C. Early entries describe training in Northern Illinois before moving on to Benton Barracks, near St. Louis. Private Capron presents as "a bit of a card" and has similar friends -- Arden Bowen, "Snooks," Billy, and Charlie -- who amuse themselves while waiting to get "into the Show." A letter written from Paducah on February 9th 1862 expresses disappointment on missing the Fort Henry operation. Another letter, written February 20th, expresses more disappointment from Paducah; but this is followed by news of Thaddeus Capron's promotion to Assistant QM and rumors IRT where they will be sent (either Fort Columbus, or Alabama). On March 10th, Capron reports the 55th Illinois is aboard the Hannibal, heading for Florence, Alabama; part of an Army of 100,000. In addition to describing the camp near Lick Creek of Stuart's Brigade (of Sherman's 5th Division) on March 23rd, Asst. QM Capron reports that "Buell is only thirty miles away with over 100,000 more men, to combine with Grant's Army," and states his belief that, "the Rebellion will soon be put down."

Excerpts of April 10 Letter from Thaddeus Capron to friends in Durand, Illinois: "We were up with reveille Sunday morning, and began preparing for inspection... away to the west we heard gunfire, which we believed was only the pickets, again. We waited over two hours before the Long Roll was beat, and then formed our line and marched forward about 80 rods. Told to lie down, the 55th Illinois waited several hours before the enemy appeared (estimated as 5000 men supported by two batteries.) The fight for the 55th Illinois and 54th Ohio Zouaves became one of fire, fall back; fire, fall back for about three hours. Afterwards, Capron expresses his awareness that "the delaying action accomplished by Stuart's Brigade was significant in preventing the destruction of Grant's Army."

April 18 details friends wounded and killed at Battle of Shiloh. And April 26 describes the preparations to march on Corinth.

Probably one of the most comprehensive collections of first-person reports to be found on the internet, this Diary and Excerpts from Letters written by Thaddeus Capron is made available by Northern Illinois University: http://civilwar.lib.niu.edu/islandora/object/niu-civil%3A14911 

Cheers

Ozzy

 

 

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