L. H.& M. R. Potts



Technically, one had to be 18 to be in the military at this time. The rule was not strictly enforced and children serving as young as Henry were not uncommon. Henry's actual military record starts in neighboring Adams county, where he in fact enlisted in Company I of the 119th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The Adams county records indicate he was transferred from Co. I to Co. C. Two possibilities are 1) that he enlisted in Adams due to his age, or that 2) he may have enlisted with two Groves cousins, as there are two Groves children that were also enlistees in Co. I. The fact of any relationship, however, has yet to be proven, as we do not of yet have the data for the Henry Groves family during this time.


The 119th reported a total of 872 men. Correspondence of Asst. Adj. Gen. Thomas M. Vincent to Richard Yates, Gov. of Ill., 06/11/1863, Official Reports, Ser. III, Vol. III, pp. 740-3. Prior to World War II, military regiments were drawn from the same locality. If the federal government called for 100,000 men, each state was allocated a share. The state similarly divided this quota among its various legislative districts, each district to raise its share. The eligible menfolk of an entire town could be in a single regiment. The impact on a locality of their unit experiencing high casualties was devastating. In the Civil War, some units suffered as much as a 90% casualty rate. Suddenly, a town would find the majority of its menfolk dead or wounded, where a neighboring town might have no impact at all.


Dyer, Civil War Compendium, reports the 119th a part of the following units, all of the Department and Army of the Tennessee:

Oct., 1862 to Dec., 1862      Dist. of Jackson, 13th Army Corp.
Dec., 1862 to Mar., 1862     3rd Brig., Dist. of Jackson, 16th Army Corp.
Mar., 1862 to May, 1863     4th Brig., 1st. Div., 16th Army Corp.
May, 1863 to Jan., 1864     4th Brig., Dist. of Memphis, 16th Army Corp.
Jan., 1864 to Dec., 1864    1st Brig., 3rd Div., 16th Army Corp.
Dec., 1864 to Feb., 1865    1st Brig., 2nd Div., Detachment A, Tennessee Command.
Feb., 1864 to muster out     1st Brig., 2nd Div., 16th Army Corp. - Gulf

The Army of the Tennessee reported the 119th as a part of the District of West Tennessee, District of Columbus, at Union City, Tennessee. Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXIV, Part III, pp. 821-7.


Rushville Times, Tue. 08/19/1862: 

The meeting of the new volunteers of this County, in this place, on last Friday, was a complete success as we have ever witnessed. There was a tremendous concourse of people in town to witness the demonstrations of the day, and everything passed off with the most profound harmony and good feeling. At 10 o'clock A.M. Cap. Greer's company met in the Court House to organize. When the roll was called one hundred men, we believe, responded to their names. The company was organized by the election of Robert L. Greer as Captain, by a unanimous vote, Thos. J. Curry, 1st Lieut.; and Adam J. Bower, 2nd Lieut., after which Capts. Greer's, Kinney's, and Slack's companies, and in fact all volunteers, were informed that the ladies of Rushville had prepared a sumptuous dinner for them at the Mansion House, to which they all immediately repaired.

After partaking freely of one of the most magnificent meals probably ever prepared in Rushville the volunteers and the greater portion of the spectators assembled in the court yard when a beautiful flag, previously prepared by the ladies of this place, was presented to each of Captain Kinney's and Captain Greer's company. As we failed by some mistake or other to get a position on the stand we are not able to give any account of the proceedings of the presentations. Suffice it to say that presentations and receptions were well done and received with great applause.

After the flag presentations, the three companies, Cap. Kinney's, Greer's, and Slack's were ordered to march out to the Fair Grounds, where they are still camped, and, as per order, will remain until further orders from the government.

This flag was, as of 1908, in the custody of Capt. R. L. Greer. Neither the Greer descendants nor the Historical Society of Rushville can account for the flag as of this writing.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 17, 10/29/1862, p. 2, col. 2:

 From the 119th Regiment

 Editor Citizen: The 119th Regiment is now comfortably lodged in the barracks one mile east of Quincy, being moved there last Thursday by order of Col. Kinney. These are very comfortable compared with the tents, and we begin to feel like living again. The barracks are long, one story board buildings, with "bunks" similar to those of a steamboat, running through the center sufficient to accommodate 96, the three commissioned officers having a room in the front of the building.

 Last Wednesday our Regiment was marched up to the city to escort General Prentis into town. The General landed at the depot and amid the cheers of thousands of people and the roaring of cannon. Here he got into a carriage and proceeded up town, riding along the lines of the 119th, with the usual military honors. He was then paraded through the principal streets to the square, where he was received by a short speech from Hon. O. H. Browning. The General then delivered a short speech, giving an account of his sufferings in the hands of the rebels.

 Respectfully yours, Soldier

 In the same newspaper, p. 3, col. 2:

 K The 119th Regiment has been placed in new and comfortable barracks. This looks somewhat as if they might count on having their winter quarters in Quincy, to which we presume the boys would not seriously object.


 Correspondence of Maj. Gen. S.A. Hurlbut to Maj. Gen. Grant, 11/09/1862, Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXIX, Part II, pp. 331. The Army of the Tennessee reported the 119th as a part of the 4th Brigade, 5th Division, District of Memphis, 16th Army Corps, as of October 31, 1863. Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXI, Part I, pp. 818-21. This is not consistent, however, with Dyer.

 The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 19, 11/12/1862, p. 3, col. 2:

 K We learn from private letters received here on Saturday last, that the 119th Reg. went directly from Quincy to Columbus, Ky., and were at once ordered from that point to Jackson, Tenn.


A detailed history of the 119th is found in the Adjutant General Report, pp. 339-343, reprinted in Appendix A. From this writing, the 119th served in the following locations:


Quincy, IL

Company activated.


Jackson, TN

Assigned to guard the Mobile & Ohio RR.


Union City TN

Retreat from C.S.A. Gen. Forrest's advance; repair RR.


Humboldt, TN

Regroup for march to Huntington, TN.


Memphis, TN

Camp 6 mi. out of Memphis at Buntyon Station.


Memphis, TN

To Memphis proper; guard roads surrounding city.


Vicksburg, MI

Form up with Sherman for march eastward.


Meridian, MI

March from Vicksburg to Meridian. Engaged: Meridian.


Vicksburg, MI

Assigned to "Red River" campaign, A.J. Smith's Detachments; Engaged: Expedition from Vicksburg to Red River, March 10 to May 24.


Simmesport, MI

Engaged: Fort De Rusey; took 283 prisoners, embarked on Atchafalya river for Alexandria.


Alexandria, MI

General duty in Alexandria, bring up the rear of Banks' Army marching on Shreveport; cover Army's retreat to Alexandria. Engaged: Battle of Pleasant Hill, 4-9-1864.


Mansura, MI

March to Alexandria; Engaged: Skirmish of Natchitoches, April 20-21, heavy losses; Skirmishes about Cloutiersville, April 22-24; Return up the Mississippi.


Bayou LaMourie, LA

Engaged: Skirmish of Bayou LaMourie, May 6; Engaged: Retreat from Alexandria to Morganza, May 13-20; Engaged: Engagement of Mensura, Marksville, 05-16; Engaged, Yellow Bayou, 05-18.


Lake Chicot, AK

Engaged: C.S.A. Gen. Marmaduke.


Memphis, TN

Assist in "wiping out the disaster of Maj. Gen. S. D. Sturgis at Guntown."


Lagrange, TN

Prepare for march through Mississippi.


Tupelo, MI

Engaged: C.S.A. Gen. Forrest Harrisburg near Tupelo 07-14, "...victory but losses heavy."


Memphis, TN

Return from Mississippi march, prepare for 2nd march.


St. Louis, MO

Ordered to attend Sherman in Georgia, but order reversed en route and reported to Gen. Rosecrans in St. Louis.



700 mile march in pursuit of C.S.A. Gen. Price from St. Louis to Dunksburg and back.


Nashville, TN

Ordered to report to Gen. Thomas; Engaged: Battle of Nashville, 12-15/16.


Columbia, TN

Pursue C.S.A. Gen. Hood's retreating forces.


Eastport, MI

Travel by water from Clifton, TN; ordered to assault on Mobile, AL.


New Orleans

Arrived to group for assault on Mobile.


Mobile, AL

Arrived, Dauphine Island, then to the mouth of the Fish River to Spanish Fort; Engaged, Battle of Blakeley, April 9th.


Montgomery, AL

March to Montgomery, advised en route of C.S.A. surrender.


Mobile, AL

Return to occupy Mobile.


Mobile, AL

Mustered out, returned to Springfield and released.


C.S.A. Lieut. Gen. John C. Pemberton commanded the Confederate Western Department. He was grandson of Israel and Sarah (Kirkbride) Pemberton, and great grandson of Joseph Kirkbride, Henry Pott's 4th great grandfather.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 16, 10/22/1862, p. 2, col. 2:

K A large number of the members of the 119th have been home on a visit to their homes once more, during the past week, the last of whom we believe left inst. Monday morning. The presumption is that no more visiting furloughs will be given and that the regiment will be ordered South or East in a short time. The order to march may come at any moment.

The same paper reported Co. C at camp Quincy:

K Messrs John P. McCreery and John J. Berry of this place have recently joined Co. C. 119th Reg., at Camp Quincy.


Humboldt, situated in Gibson co., TN, was newly laid out in 1858 at the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis and Louisville railroad. 13 miles from the town of Jackson, TN, the town's strategic position was clearly related to this crossing. Rushville Times, ____________, 1863:

From the 119th Regiment


We are permitted to make the following extract from a letter just received from a member of co. C, 119th Ill. Vol. now at Humboldt, Tenn. 

Fort Humboldt, Tenn., Jan. 8, 1863 

Dear Brother: I received your letter dated Dec. 20th yesterday, also a Citizen of the 17th Dec. Our mail came down the river and up here by way of Memphis. This is the first we have had for over a month. Two car loads of soldiers letters came to Jackson this week. We are at present quartered in good log cabins inside the fort, which is on a hill just above old Humboldt, and about eighteen miles north of Jackson. There is only two companies of our regiment here - C and D. co. A is about two miles below here on Forked Dear river, guarding a railroad bridge. co. B is _________, co. F (Capt. Stack's) is about forty miles below here at Team's Station, guarding a railroad bridge; three companies are above, somewhere between here and Columbus & two companies have been taken prisoner and paroled and gone to St. Louis I suppose. So you see that the 119th is pretty well scattered out. I heard yesterday that James Young and Charles Harnon, who were at Trenton in the hospital, were also taken prisoners. If so they are probably at home before this. 

We have had to forage for everything we have ever since we left ______. On account of the railroad being torn up between here and Columbus, we can get ______________ __________________________ part of the country have got anything to eat. Capt. Greer took a lot of us out a few days ago foraging. We went out about seven miles to a wealthy old rebel who owned a mill. We took twenty four hundred weight of flour and forty head of fat hogs that would average about 250. Have since brought in sixteen barrels of molasses. There is at present inside the fort seventy-five horses, about one hundred sheep, hogs and niggers innumerable, all confiscated property, and still coming in every day. 

The railroad has been pretty badly torn up all the way from Jackson to Columbia. The Engineer regiment is above here at work. They have two large bridges and about three miles of trestle work to build yet, but the way they are pulling it through they will soon be done. They are milking the citizens and the niggers do the heaviest part of the work. We were measured for pay the last of December. Don't know whether we will ever get any or not, it looks kinda doubtful but hope it will come soon, for I have only twenty-five cents left, but I am better off than half the company.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 17, 02/18/1863, p. 3, Col. 2:

K The 119th Reg., we learn, is being concentrated at Humboldt.

We commend to our fire-in-the-rear Democrats a letter we publish today from "A Soldier" in the 119th Reg. As he says, he is a "Democrat all over," but he is none of this modern kind.

K Mr. Tharpe of this vicinity arrived home a few day since from a short visit to the 119th, now at Humboldt. Our boys were generally well. He was told by a number of the soldiers to request to say to those semi-secesh who are talking about calling their friends in the army home, that they have no friends there. The soldiers recognize no parties but patrons and traitors, and though some of them do not favor the policy of the administration, they have too much patriotism to suffer that to interfere with duty to their country.

The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 17, 02/18/1863, p. 2, Col. 3:

A Voice from the 119th

Humboldt, Tenn., Feb, 9th, 1863

Editor Citizen: I am sorry to say that we have heard that Old Schuyler is almost secesh. I am sorry to hear of such news. I understand some of the citizens want the Illinois troops called home. Now that is a two handed game. The boys have started out to fight for the Constitution and the Union as it was, and they don't want to be interfered with. You may say I am an "abolitionist." No sir. I am a Democrat all over, and don't like the proclamation at all; but my doctrine is, to obey the powers that be, for in no other way can this war be settled. When it is over, if any efforts are made to bring negroes into our free States and set them free, it will be then time enough to kick up a fuss.

Now you who uphold the rebels, you stand in your own light, for nothing would please them better then to see the North split up. That would be just to their hand. Let me tell you, the rebels hate you "fire-in-the-rear" fellows a sight worse than they do a soldier in arms, or an open supporter of the administration, and if you were down here they would shoot you quicker than any other man in the country.

Shame on you Northern secesh sympathizers! If you think there is one man, either married or single, in the 119th who would disgrace himself, his family, or his country, by giving heed to your counsels, you are mistaken. Such at least is my belief.

I think Col. Kinney was about right when he told those men who talked of calling their friends home, "that they had no friends in the army." I think when they come to call their friends home they will find them few and far between. Aye sir, we have more respect for our forefathers, our country, the Stars and Stripes that wave over us this day, than to be the friends of such men. Cease your opposition to the government and set yourselves to work for your country, and you will soon see this war closed. A Soldier


Rushville Times, ________________, March 4, 1863:


Meeting of the 119th and 128th Illinois Regiment


Humboldt, Tenn., Feb. 14th, 1863.

Editor Citizen. At a meeting of the soldiers of this camp, consisting of the 119th and 126 regiments Illinois volunteers held in pursuance of a request of Col. Josalbee Richmond, of the 126th regiment Illinois volunteers, commanding the post of Humboldt Tenn.

On motion Col. J. Richmond was nominated and elected Chairman of the meeting and Samuel D. Sawyer, of the 119th Illinois, was chosen Secretary.

Lieut. Col. Samuel E. Taylor, of the 119th stated the subject of the meeting in a brief and concise manner to be for an expression of opinion of the soldiers in regard to the disaffection towards the government, which seems to be arising in our State, and which some have feared was extending to the army, but which he hoped the sense of this meeting would emphatically contradict.

On motion, the Chairman appointed Lieut. Col. S. E. Taylor of the 119th regiment, Lieut. Col. E. M. Beardley, of the 126th, Capt. Geo. Parker, 119th, and Capt. A. N. Smyser, 126th, a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting with instruction to report as soon as convenient. Adjutant D. W. Munn, of the 126th Illinois, being called upon, addressed the meeting in a clear, forcible and pungent style, at some length.

After "Hail Columbia" by the band of the 119th, the committee on resolutions reported the following resolutions which were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, Our Government is now engaged in a struggle involving its very existence, and with it the perpetuity of every right dear to us as American citizens, requiring the united efforts of all good, true and loyal men in its behalf; and

Whereas, We have beheld with deep sorrow and regret the bitter partisan spirit which is now becoming dangerous, malicious and revengeful in our own State and elsewhere, calculated to discourage soldiers and weaken the army in this, its great effort to save our country from ruin, by the suppression of this wicked and causeless rebellion; therefore resolved -

1. That, having pledged our lives and every cherished earthly interest to the service of our common country in this the darkest hour of her peril, we ask and insist that our friends and neighbors at home lay aside all party jealousies and party animosities, and stand nobly by us in upholding the President in every effort to maintain the dignity, authority and unity of the Government, and in unfurling again the glorious emblem of our nationality in every city and town in rebeldom, and in enforcing strict obedience to the Constitution and the laws throughout our whole country.

2. That we tender to Governor Yates and Adjutant General Faller our warmest thanks and congratulations for the untiring zeal and energy in raising, organizing, and arming and equipping the army which Illinois has sent to the field; and for the timely and kind attention to our sick and wounded soldiers and we assure them of our steady and warm support in every effort to maintain for Illinois the noble character of pre-eminent loyalty, which she has so richly earned and still ________.

3. That we have watched with disgust and shame the traitorous conduct of many officers and citizens in high and in humble stations, who have lent their aid to weaken the force and thwart the ultimate subjects of our noble army by acts calculated to discourage _______ ________ desertions, and by many other schemes given aid and comfort to the _______ exhausted rebels, and we would say to them, BEWARE OF THE ___________ _________ which is falling upon you ____________________________________________________ the war and _____________ of the Union, have my hearty co-operation.

W. W. Wil__________

After hearty cheering and enthusiastic applause by the regiments, the meeting adjourned.

Col. RICHMOND, Chairman.

Sawyer, Secretary

Copperhead Letter from Schuyler County


Editor Citizen: The within letter is but a shadow of the blackness of treason in your county. The men who are guilty of no crimes but fighting for their country and the supremacy of the laws are daily receiving such traitorous breathings. And not a resolution is passed, or a meeting called, but they are sent to the soldiers and the grand saving clause of "desert and we'll protect you" is always appended. Can such be, under the garth of loyalty? The entire army would answer, no! And could such unpaid traitors have but a faint idea of the feeling of the army, shame would close their mouths. Only one thing I fear, to wit: men rise in their wrath and ask, almost pray, for war in Illinois that they may wreak vengeance. Traitors of Schuyler, you are marked, and dearly will you pay for these slanders of the soldiery of your country. Rest assured that no such letters as the within are written but that they are exhibited around the camp. I could give you the earnest fifty men whose letters have boys subjected to public scorn and contempt, and I shall not add, the heated sulfurous flames that they are asked to visit.

We are stationed at Humboldt, Tenn., on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. - Health of regiment good. Companies all together. More soon. Fox


The following is the letter referred to above. It was sent to a member of the 119th, and was picked up in camp. We publish it verbatim, only omitting sundry personal matters.

Schuyler co., Ill, Feb. 9, 1863.

The democrats of this County is going to hold a meeting in Rushville on the 21 of this month in ______ locations against Lincoln's emancipation proclamation we don't want to be taxed to buy niggers and that aint half we are determined not to be your Colon___ had the imprudence to fech a black scamp here but he got away from here in a hurry. I suppose you see what you are fighting for thow it is for the niggers and not for the Union. I understand that the blockade is rased at Charleston and simply done by two of there terrible steam Rams completely surprising the bloccading squadron and demolishing the whole thing the rumer here is that the army under old Burnside is terribly demoralized and if Lee would push on to them he might Capture the whole army. Stonewall Jackson has re-entered vicksburg with forty thousand men Longstreet has formed a junction with Bragg with sixty thousand men I am afraid you boys are carried on by de_______ false pretense and ______ lying I often wonder that a young man with such a mind and ability as you have that you __________ with the black and heartless Crew I hear they are getting up on a Conscription bill to Congress to be ready for drafting in the Spring but they might just as well try to draft the magots out of hell as to draft men from Illinois I hear you boys had a hell of a race I did not ____________________________________ ____________________________________



The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 25, 12/24/1862, p. 2, col. 5:

From Col. Kinney's Regiment

The following private letter, written on the 10th inst., to a gentleman in this place, will be found full of interest.

*** Jackson is a relic of taste and beauty. Fine residences, with lawns beautified with all kinds of ever-greens trimmed in every imaginable shape that might please the eye. But now they have an untrimmed growth, while the polished fences have suffered the violence of the war and all is shadowed. Even the faces of the inhabitants wear the same aspect, and I sometimes think that some of them have been so gloomy and dark that the effect has been lasting. Every door that opens, every window that rises, every broom that moves, every thing in fact &emdash; work song and dance &emdash; is sure evidence of a darkey about, all negroes. The place is filled with "secesh" &emdash; men who have actually been in the "secesh" army. Andy they walk about with larger liberties than the poor soldier, for that impregnable reason &emdash; they have the oath in their pocket. You will be walking along the streets of Jackson and see some lucky "butternut" who as been so successful as to have enough U.S. postage currency to buy a Chicago Times; (all the paper they will either buy or read.) around him will be gathered a woeful gang, to whom he reads an article, and then the comments begin. You may walk towards them to catch a reasonable word, but all are as mute as brutes. Pass on, and the gesticulation soon evidences another fierce harangue. So it is, they collect around the corners and in stores that are licensed to do business under the oath system &emdash; blaspheme the soldier, the government, and lay schemes to introduce rebel assistance.

Now the vendors of cotton are next. In comes a man with twenty bales of cotton, weighing five pounds each. He goes to the Provost Marshal's office, takes the oath, wells his cotton for fifty-two cents a pound, pockets his two thousand dollars or so, gets his repass by the pickets, and goes right where he come from, to wit: to a band of guerrillas or the secesh army. That man's negroes have raised that cotton while he has been fighting; and it raised, he has been privileged to come home and sell it, while we more than invite him, pay him for his cotton and give written authority to go back to a repetition of his damnable purposes and exploits, and this all under the conciliatory, kid-gloved, velvety policy that seems everywhere to be adopted. And today in Jackson, an abominable "butternut" can be better fed, caressed and catered to than a sick Union soldier. I assert and know that any man can lay aside his secesh uniform, come into Jackson, see his friends, take a detail of the troops, their station, fortifications, strength and weaknesses; take the oath, and go on unmolested; and in fact avenged, if any dare molest him. And this is war! A Union soldier may have a brother dying at the next station, or a friend a little the nearer, calling for aid, as the death damp gathers upon his brow; but that brother will have to die, and that friend too, while the pass system will not relax its rigidity sufficient to permit his presence.

This system of business is, I suppose, carried on everywhere in this section. And it is my opinion that this war will never end until it is changed. Keep them south of our lines, or send them north, and leave the army without hangerson &emdash; especially "secesh" gentlemen.

You will observe from a map of the town that at Jackson the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, running on to Corinth, &c., is intersected by another road form Grand Junction. Our duty was to keep five companies on the road leading from Grand Junction to Jackson, and the other five to do picket round about, and patrol duty in Jackson. But now a change in the military programme has been announced, and being carried out we have been moved up the road from Jackson to relieve the 62d Ill Reg. in guarding the railroad from Columbus down. We are about midway the two places, Jackson and Columbus. A more lonesome, wearisome place than Kenton &emdash; especially to a sick man &emdash; never was. A little meager, inconsiderable, unlaid-off, un-streeted collection of unpainted, unplastered, uncouth houses. Bit I have thought I ought not to complain for we use any of them we wish, while the soldiers have their cabins, and all is as comfortable as log fires, log houses and one blanket can make it, in this or any other country.

We had about two inches of snow Sunday, but it is all gone, and to-day we are comfortable without coats. The boys all seem to enjoy themselves, but are anxious to have the war ended. You can have but little conception of a soldier's life. The hardships are not describable, and to get sick, as I have been for a week is intolerable. Many a comfort is longed for, but in vain; but so it goes.

The business on this railroad is all government. No freights except express and government canon comes up. Mules, horses, cattle, commissary and quarter-master stores, go down. The country, as all Tennessee along this road, is flat, low and full of ague.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VII, No. 40, 04/08/1863, p. 3, col. 2:

K Mr. Daniel B. Smith of the 119th Reg., arrived home in this place on Sunday evening last. He left Memphis on the Tuesday previous, and reports our boys to be generally in good health and in good spirits. The paymaster has been around and paid all off in full to the 1st of November last, and will pay all up to March 1st in a few days &emdash; Companies B and C sent home near $2000 each. The money belonging to Co. C will be found in the hands of Mr. Geo. M. Greer near Pleasantview, that belonging to Co. B is left in the hands of John C. Bagby and at Browning. The desertion game has played out. We presume the Regiment has lost nothing by the desertion of such material. Mr. S. reports our boys to be unanimously in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war. They entertain the most bitter and contemptuous feelings for the Copperhead faction in their rear, who are trying to cripple the Government. If those who write to them about deserting &c., could know with what contempt their treasonable sentiments were received, and how they were ridiculed and held up to the scorn of the camp, they would consult their own good by at once drying up on that question.

Dyer, Civil War Compendium, places the 119th from May, 1863 to Jan., 1864, as part of the 4th Brigade, District of Memphis, 16th Army Corp. As of April 30th, 1863, the Brigade was assigned to the 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, Brigade Commander Col. Stephen G. Hicks, and Division Commander Brig. Gen. William Sooey Smith. The presence of the 119th at Memphis is confirmed in the October, 1863, report of Confederate scout Charles Pierson, who noted "an African regiment of infantry" stationed with them. Report of Charles Pierson, Scout, October, 1863, Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXI, Part III, pp. 592-3.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 1, 07/08/1863, p. 2, col. 3:

Letter from the 119th Reg.

We are permitted to make the following interesting extracts from a letter written by a member of Co. C, to a friend in this place, dated June 21st, at Memphis, Tenn.

The other day it was reported that the "rebs" were at Coldwater, thirty miles South of this place, and intended advancing on this city. Gen. Hurlbut sent the Fifth Ohio cavalry out to reconnoiter. They met them and were nearly all gobbled up. This news soon came back, and Friday at noon our brigade was ordered out. We took up the time of march about noon on Friday. On the way out that evening we met a great many of the Fifth Ohio boys coming in, some on foot and some on horseback, and nearly all bareheaded. We met one man with his nose shot off, and several others wounded in different ways. We marched on until midnight. We waded through several streams and land down on the ground, wet and tired without and supper. Got up next morning and took the back track, and arrived to camp yesterday a little after noon &emdash; after twenty-four hours hard marching with out any thing to eat, and what was still worse, didn't even get a sight of the enemy. On Friday evening, as we were marching out, our advance guard were fired on and one man killed, by a band of guerillas. Some of the boys gave chase and succeeded in capturing a rebel captain &emdash; all the trophy of our tramp.

You ask what I think of going to Vicksburg. Well, I don't think much about it now, for I don't believe we will go; but I did think at one time we were bound for Vicksburg sure. It was the evening of the 8th of this month we were ordered to pack up and be on the boat ready to start by 8 o'clock next morning, but the 48th got in ahead of us and got aboard the boat we were to go on and there not being any more transports here at the time our order was countermanded. I would have liked very well to have a hand in taking Vicksburg &emdash; I feel as though I would love to be at the scene of strife. I would be glad of a change, though it lead me to death. I may come back in full health or a miserable cripple, or I may never come back. I hope that I may live to enjoy the blessings for which I risk my life; but if I fall, I have the consolation that I fall discharging a sacred duty &emdash; fighting for the union of States, which caused our forefathers so much bloodshed. What a noble cause &emdash; what a glorious death! If the war is not ended when my time is up, I expect to enlist for three years more. I never can be satisfied to stay at home while I have friends in the army fighting for the blessings I enjoy in idleness at home &emdash; You ask if I get anything to read in camp. I get the Citizen once in a while, and that is about all we have to read. I would be very much obliged for any reading you might sent me at your pleasure.


The 119th, like many Civil War units, men were taken by injury and disease which was reported in the local paper. The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 3, 07/22/1863, p. 2, Col. 2 (death of Samuel Melvin, Co. F, 119th); The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 6, 08/12/1863, p. 3, Col. 2 (death of Samson Croxton, lung disease). The state of health of the regimental Capt. Robert Greer was reported in The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 6, 08/12/1863, p. 3, Col. 2:

K Captain Robert Greer, of Co. C, 119th Reg., reached home on Friday last, on a twenty day's leave of absence. We are sorry to see the Captain looking so thin. He has not had good health for sometime past.


Adjutant General Report, pp. 339-40, reprinted in Appendix A.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 1, 07/08/1863, p. 4, Col. 1:

From the 119th.

Mr. Frederick Neil, of Co. B, 119th, arrived here on last Sunday morning on a leave of absence for a few days. Mr. Joseph Dennis, of this vicinity, came up at the same time; bringing with him his son Francis, also a member of the 119th, who has been quite sick, and has a leave of absence. Also Lieut. Colonel Taylor, of Mt. Sterling, on leave of absence, and 1st Lieutenant Brumback, of Co. F, 119th, who has resigned on account of his health, came home at the same time. Col. Taylor has become quite popular with the Regiment. Mr. Neil enjoys better health than he has for years before, and is brim full of patriotism. Though a Democrat, he endorses the war measures of the Administration as essential to the restoration of peace. He confirms the oft repeated assertion that the army, as a whole, are a unit in favor of the continued "offensive prosecution of the war," until rebellion is crushed out and traitors shall learn that the Constitution and laws of the United States are sacred things and not to be ruthlessly violated under any pretext whatsoever.

Mr. Nell left Memphis on Tuesday of last week, the boys were then generally well and in the best of spirits &emdash; some disappointment among them, because of their failure in not getting to go down to Vicksburg.

Though not able to attend the Vicksburg capture, The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 2, 07/22/1863, p. 2, Col. 2, alluded to the celebration by the unit given the news of its fall:

K We are indebted to Mr. W. F. Simpson, of Co C, 119th Reg., for a long and friendly letter, describing among other things, the manner in which the boys celebrated the capture of Vicksburg.


General Order No. 80, Hdqrs. District of Memphis, 09/03/1863, Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXX, Part III, pp. 320-1. As of December 31, 1863, however, they were still reported as a component of the District of Memphis, Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXI, Part III, pp. 569.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 43, 10/07/1863, p. 3, Col. 2:

K Mr. Charles H. Sweeney of company B 119th, Ills Vol., is home on a 30 days furlough. He says the 119th, was ordered to "pack knapsacks" and hold themselves in readiness to leave Memphis on Saturday the 25th ult. &emdash; There are good reasons for believing their destination is Chattanooga.



Rushville Times, ___________, 1863, p. ____ col. ____:

Letters from the Army


From the 119th Regiment


Memphis, Tenn., Nov. 21st 1863


Editor Citizen: The camp of the 119th Regiment having been lately remodeled and "laid off" according to Gunter, the officers and men at once proceeded to make arrangements, according to their own ideas of comfortable winter quarters. Their arrangements are now about complete, a description of which in detail would render this communication too lengthily. Let it suffice, therefore, to remark that our camp, as well as the Regiment by which it is occupied, may be set down as a model, any person disposed to be incredulous, we, in behalf of the 119th, invite them to give us a call, and we guarantee agreeable proof of the correctness of the assertion. Our friends at home, however, need not infer that these preparations are by any means significant of a permanent location, even during the coming winter, "Uncle Sam" may need our services elsewhere, and as we are subject to his order, we hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moments warning, and when the order comes our stakes will be drawn with the same good will and cheerfulness, with which they were driven.

The mixed population of Memphis has been considerably agitated lately by the issue of certain orders relating to "able bodied citizens" and the passing of goods beyond our lines. The orders are satisfactory except to those to whom they specially apply, many of whom will henceforth be more able to appreciate the value of "Greenbacks," in consequence of a change in the means by which they are to be obtained. No important event in connection with the Regiment has transpired lately, and things of daily occurrence we presume are extensively circulated through private correspondence.

The election returns from Schuyler appear to be satisfactory, in as much as they demonstrate the defunct condition of copperheadism in that region. We opine, the Vallandighammers of Schuyler can not feel very jubilant over the Bunker's Hill victory, which they have gained.

No appearance of Winter in the region yet. The weather is most beautiful. Health of the Regiment is good as usual. Report of this morning shows six commissioned officers on sick list, ten men in hospital and forty sick in camp.

Truly yours, H.E.W.


The report of C.S.A. Gen. Forrest of December 24, 1863, reprinted in Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XVII, pp. 593-5:

On the morning of the 21st I fired the [Trenton] depot…After seeing everything destroyed I moved on in the direction of Union City, capturing at Rutherford Station two companies of Federals and destroying the railroad from Trenton to Kenton Station, at which place we captured Col. [Thomas J.] Kinney, of the One hundred and twenty second [One hundred and nineteenth] Illinois Regiment, and 22 men left sick in the hospital. I took a portion of the command and pushed ahead to Union City, capturing 26 Federals without firing a gun.


From May, 1863, until mustering out, the 119th traveled with the 58th Illinois Infantry, 89th Indiana Infantry and the 21st Missouri Infantry. They were known as "Smith's Veterans." The 58th Illinois had seen action at Forts Henry and Donelson with Grant, and then at Pittsburgh Landing, where a good portion of the regiment were killed, wounded or captured. See, Adjutant General Report, vol. IV, p. 101-3.

The Adjutant General Report narrative on the 119th states that the history of any of these units is a history of them all. This report includes with the units which traveled with the 119th the 9th Ohio Battery as well. Dyer, Civil War Compendium, correctly contradicts this and notes that the 9th Indiana Battery was a part of the "group" through 1863/64, which is confirmed by Merrill, Indiana Soldier, as well as the 9th Ohio's own history, printed in Reid, Ohio in the War, her Statesmen and Her Generals, and Soldiers (1868, Moore, Wilsatch & Baldwin, Cincinnati, OH), pp. 849-52.



Also under General Sherman's command for the Meridian campaign was the Iowa 3rd Cavalry. This unit was from the Fairfield, IA, area, and included several individuals from families that had been close to the Potts for years &emdash; including Famuleners, Chadseys and Mitchells. Also a part of this unit was a "cousin-to-be" for Henry, Charles A. Skinner, first cousin of the girl Henry would later marry, Melissa Rail. The Iowa 3rd Cavalry was also a part of the Guntown expedition under General Sturgis, and at the battle of Tupelo, both of which included the 119th Illinois. It is not known whether Henry was aware his friends and family were with him on these expeditions.


Lewis, Sherman, Fighting Prophet, (1932, ____________, New York, NY), p. 333.


Merrill, Indiana Soldier, pp. 562-3:

Soon after Sherman's return from Chattanooga to Vicksburg, he set on foot an expedition for the destruction of Confederate public property, and if circumstances were encouraging for an advance into Rebel territory. The forces designated for his operations were to move in two columns, one from Memphis, under General W.S. Smith; the other from Vicksburg, under the direct command of Sherman, and were to meet, provided the former was not heavily opposed, at Meridian, a railroad center on the eastern edge of the state of Mississippi. A.J. Smith moved down from Memphis, and reinforced Sherman with his division [that included the 119th Illinois]…

February 3, with Sixteenth Corps under Hurlbut, and the Seventeenth under McPherson, his command in all amounting to twenty thousand infantry, twelve thousand cavalry and sixty pieces of light artillery, and with a wagon train carrying twenty days' rations, Sherman set out on several roads. After crossing the Big Black, he began to receive marks of the enemy's attention. The march, however, was not obstructed further than by lightly hovering skirmishers. The enemy was in two large divisions under French and Loring, and showed a formidable front at Champion Hills, Clinton, Jackson and on Line creek; but, after slight engagements, melted away from each point. At Pearl river he even abandoned his pontoon bridge.

Before the appointed time, Sherman reached Meridian. He staid a week, advancing part of his force six miles north, and making his stay as destructive as possible. Then, not having been joined by the cooperating body from Memphis, he gave up, if he had ever entertained, the idea of penetrating to Mobile, or any other distant point, and made a sort of triumphal return to Vicksburg, which he reached on March 4.



The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 38, 03/23/1864, p. 2, Col. 3:

The 119th in the Raid into Dixie

In rear of Vicksburg, March 5, 1864.

Editor Citizen: After about sixteen months of comparative quiet and repose, the 119th Regiment have participated in one of the grandest expeditions of the present war. Leaving Vicksburg on the 3d of February, we have marched entirely across the State of Mississippi and returned, arriving at our former camping ground March 4th.

This raid through the enemy's country was not made without some resistance by the rebels. On the second day out we were first fired upon, our Brigade at that time being in front. We were immediately thrown into the line of battle, and companies "A and "B" of the 119th deployed as skirmishers &emdash; Moving forward in line, through brush, briars and water, we at last reached open ground, in full view of the rebel battery planted some three quarters of a mile distant. Our battery being in position, we here had the pleasure for the first time of witnessing an "artillery duel." The rebel shells came howling and bursting over our heads, but doing no harm. After several rounds from the two opposing batteries, a shot from our's was thrown with such precision as to cause the rebels to skedaddle in the most approved style peculiar to "Southern Chivalry," when our column advanced and camped for the night upon the ground just evacuated. Skirmishing was continued every day, and occasionally pretty sharp fighting, but onward marched our column, driving the rebels before us.

The troops engaged in this grand expedition were of Hurlbut's 16th and McPherson's 17th Army Corps. The rebel force was under command of Gen. Polk. It was expected that the latter would, at several points, make a stand and especially at Meridian, a very important point to them, and the place of our destination. But in this we were disappointed, for when we arrived at Meridian the entire rebel force had "played out," "vamoosed," "skedaddled" &emdash; gone to parts unknown, so we marched in and occupied the town. We remained here long enough to destroy some thirty miles of railroad, and other property of value to the rebels, when we were informed, by order of Gen. Sherman, that the object of the expedition having been fully accomplished, we would return to the Mississippi river.

On our return we took a more northerly route, passing through Canton, a beautiful town, surrounded by a good country, both of which bear unmistakable marks of wealth and former prosperity. We arrived in rear of Vicksburg March 4th, just one month after starting out, where we are now awaiting orders.

The 119th generally stood the march well. On our return, Lieut. Hubbard and two men of Co. "A," and John McCreery of Co. "C," were supposed to have been captured, at least they are the missing ones. Many interesting details might be given in relation to this expedition but the communication would be too lengthily for your paper. The Citizen, though of ancient date, was heartily welcomed on our arrival here.

Yours Truly H.E.W.



The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. VIII, No. 37, 03/16/1864, p. 3, Col. 2:

Eighty letters came to the Rushville P.O. last Saturday from the 119th Ill. Vol., and contained the first news our people had heard from their boys. They all seem to be in fine spirits and anxious for just such another trip.

 Not all the news of the march was so light. The same issue of the Schuyler Citizen reported:

K We are pained to learn that Mr. John McCreery of Co. C, 119th Ill. Vol., and son of J. G. McCreery of this place, was captured by the rebels, in General Sherman's late raid into Dixie. We trust he will soon be heard from, safe and sound.


The Red River Expedition was the brainstorm of Gen. Halleck, then Union Commander in Chief. Gen. Banks, commander of the Trans-Mississippi theater, was to march up the Red river, and meet up with Maj. Gen. Steele who was to march down from Little Rock, Arkansas. The objective was to remove the Rebel army then at Shreveport, Louisiana. The campaign was as much economically motivated as politically. Northern mills needed Southern cotton. West Mississippi & Texas were the most fertile sources for this crop. Texas was doubly desired. Union control of Texas would halt the Confederate trade with Europe through Mexico and would curb the threat of a Mexican invasion. Mexico was recently invaded by France's Napoleon III, feared to be himself a Confederate sympathizer.


Special Field Orders, No. 14, 16th Army Corps, reprinted in Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXIV, Part II, pp. 514-6.


The following discussion of the Red River campaign is drawn from Merrill, Indiana Soldier, pp. 519-33, and Adjutant General Report, pp. 339-343.


With the troops were more cotton speculators than can be imagined. There were upwards of 100,000 bales of cotton to be had as the spoils of this campaign, and a number of Northern speculators had even met with C.S.A. Gen. Smith to arrange cotton purchases. Cotton sales would supply funds desperately needed by Smith to finance Rebel military operations.



Merrill, Indiana Soldier, pp. 519-21:

[The troops under Generals] Smith and Porter, the former especially, had also been forced to fight their way [to Simmesport]. Immediately after the arrival of gunboats and transports at Simmesport, a reconnoitering party went out several miles to Yellow Bayou, and discovering two large but incomplete earth-works, evidently but lately deserted, followed the trail of the enemy, and captured five wagons loaded with tents, for which it substituted sugar and molasses. On the night of March 13, Smith, with his troops, in light marching order, set out for Fort De Russey, thirty five miles distant, where, according to report, the enemy was prepared to dispute if not to arrest progress. The march was annoyed by skirmishers, and obstructed by the burning of a bridge, nevertheless it was accomplished before four in the afternoon the following day.

De Russey was by no means an insignificant fort. It consisted of two distinct and formidable earth-works, which were connected by a covered way, was armed with eight siege and two field guns, and was manned by a garrison numbering two hundred and eighty three.

Under the open mouths of the artillery, to which, as the movement progressed, musketry was added, General Smith drew his lines through heavy woods into an open space within a hundred yards of the fort. His batteries, the Third Indiana being the first to begin, opened and kept up a brisk cannonade. At the close of two hours' firing, he threw forward the first brigade of the Sixteenth Corps to storm the west wall. The Fifty-Eighth Illinois on the right, Eighty-Ninth Indiana in the center, and One Hundred and Nineteenth Illinois on the left, rushed up with a cheer, had reached the ditch and were plunging down, when a white flag brought them to a stand. The loss in the assault was small. That of the Eighty-Ninth was ten - one killed.

The troops destroyed the works, and with the boats, which, after removing obstructions of piles and chains in the river, arrived just as the fort surrendered, went on to Alexandria about a hundred and fifty miles above Fort De Russey. The enemy retired, burning cotton as he moved, and the town surrendered without resistance.



Things did not go smoothly for the cotton speculators. They made a fatal mistake: they did not include Admiral Porter in their scheme. Porter's men confiscated all the bales of cotton they found along the Red and for miles in either direction. Porter made no payment for the crop, and claimed the bales as contraband even where the owners were Union sympathizers and regardless of any prior arrangements. When this became known to C.S.A. Gen. Kirby Smith, the Confederates burned all cotton left behind on their retreat.


Banks assured the Alexandria residents that his occupation was permanent, and many signed loyalty oaths given this promise. The election, however, produced only 300 voters.


Banks was apparently unaware of a second route along the Red river bank where he could have remained under the protection of Porter's fleet.


C.S.A. Gen. Walker, second in command to Kirby Smith, had joined Taylor, and like Taylor, had skirmished with Banks since Alexandria. Their force was a fraction of Banks', but they were concentrated, whereas Banks' train extended over 20 miles. Banks' double misfortune was that his lead unit, a cavalry regiment, remained separated from the balance of his forces by the van's supply train on what was otherwise a narrow road. As anticipated, neither Banks' cavalry in front, nor his infantry behind, could pass the supply train to assist each other.


To C.S.A. Gen. Taylor, a battle was certain. He mustered Confederate forces from miles away to be in position. Though on the field by 9 a.m. with his cavalry, Taylor waited until afternoon for additional Rebel forces to arrive.


At Pleasant Hill it was the turn for the other members of the brigade to shine. The report of the brigade commander, Colonel William F. Lynch, of the 58th Illinois Infantry, particularly noted the bravery of the 58th and the 89th Indiana Infantry. From the report it is clear Col. Lynch followed his regiment and did not command the brigade as a whole as was his duty. The report of Col. Kinney of the 119th was not particularly silent on the division of the brigade and his dissatisfaction at being on the sidelines of the main action. Official Reports, Series 1, vol. XXXIV, part 1, pp. 340-2 (Report of Col. W. F. Lynch); Official Reports, Series 1, vol. XXXIV, part 1, pp. 345-47 (Report of Col. Kinney), reprinted in Appendix A.


Scott, Civil War Records, vol. XXXIV, Part 1, p. 309.


Henry's cousin Joseph Potts, the son of Kirkbride Potts, served under C.S.A. Gen. Steele and was part of the force which successfully held the Union forces at bay in Arkansas. They never were able to reinforce Gen. Banks. Kirkbride Notes, p. 262.


Smith was so appalled in not following up the victory that he urged his immediate superior, Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, to arrest Banks and take command of the forces. Reminded that this was treason, Smith backed down.


The 119th was fortunate enough to have suffered only 3 casualties in the battle. Only one individual was left at the Pleasant Hill hospital. The companion regiments, the 89th Indiana and 58th Illinois, each had several wounded on the field. Banks' letter to the Confederate commander the following day, reprinted in Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. XXXIV, p. 125:

Commanding General Forces, C. S. Army
Pleasant Hill

Sir: When the troops of my command evacuated Pleasant Hill there were left behind for want of ambulances quite a large number of wounded officers and men. At the moment it was impracticable to leave them with the proper supplies for men in their condition, but I request of you now the privilege of forwarding for them necessary supplies of food, medicines, clothing, &c.

Very respectfully, I am, sir, your obedient servant.

N.P. Banks                           
Major General, Commanding



The Cavalry was a brigade under Tailors' lieutenant C.S.A. Gen. Wharton.


Banks' main force was organized in New England by Banks himself. These were inexperienced men. The 119th, like other western units from Illinois, Missouri and Indiana adopted Sherman's approach to war. The Confederates called them the "gorillas."

Banks' second in command, Maj. Gen. Franklin, put a bounty on the heads of Federals looting the Southern countryside. For "indiscriminate marauding and incendiarism, disgraceful to the army of a civilized nation," the reward was $500, a substantial sum. Scott, Civil War Records, vol. XXXIV, part III, p. 307. Little did he know that A.J. Smith's men acted under his orders. The New England soldiers were appalled. The New York 114th's historian wrote:

Destruction and desolation followed on the trail of the retreating column. At night, the burning buildings mark our pathway. As far as the eye can reach, we see in front new fires breaking out, and in the rear the dying embers tell the tale of war. Hardly a building is left unharmed…The wanton and useless destruction of property has well earned [A.J. Smith's] command a lasting disgrace… In order that the stigma of rendering houseless and homeless innocent women and children, may not rest upon us, be it recorded that not only the Commander of the Army, but our Division and Brigade commanders have issued orders reprobating it, and threatening offenders with instant death.


Most, including Adm. Porter, felt Col. Baily's plan ridiculous. The only alternative, however, was burning the fleet to avoid Confederate capture. The soldiers constructing the dam were ridiculed, and even Porter left his ships loaded with Confederate cotton gathered upstream. When success appeared probable, however, Porter changed his tune.


To the obvious cheers of the soldiers, the cotton gathered by speculators and the navy were discarded to make room for federal supplies. Once again, on the way out, Alexandria was burnt to the ground by the trailing units including the 119th under Smith.


Merrill, Indiana Soldier, pp. 533, Appendix A.


The Schuyler Citizen, Vol. IX, No. 2, 08/24/1864, p. 3, Col. 2. Much of this disgust could be due to George's health. In the George W. Potts Pension File, affidavits discuss the difficulties George W. had on the Red River Campaign &emdash; constant and untreatable diarrhea.


Adjutant General Report, p. 340; Merrill, Indiana Soldier, pp. 569:

The part of A.J. Smith's command not engaged in the Guntown expedition was on its way up the Mississippi. It landed at Columbia, Arkansas, and marched round Lake Chicot, about fifteen miles, to find and disperse a force, under Gen. Marmaduke, which had been firing on transports. The advance met with a stubborn resistance, which yielded quickly to the main body.