Civil War Diary of Henry Carl Ketzle
37th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company A 1861 - 1866
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July - August 1861
This Company was raised in Rock Island County and the adjoining towns of Richland Grove, Preemption, and Perryton of Mercer County under the first call of President Lincoln for 300,000 men for 3 years in July 1861 and was recruited under the auspices of M. S. Barnes journalist, H. Curtis Jr. Lawyer and J. A. Jordan farmer. On the 14th of August having the requisite number of over 84 they proceeded to a formal election and organization, with the understanding that on the following Monday the 19th, all were to rendezvous in Rock Island City. On the evening of the 19th, with an aggregate of about 112, after several patriotic addresses, we went aboard the cars amid shaking of hands and other farewell tokens from our parents and friends and ere long we were on our way to Chicago, where we arrived early on the morning of the 20th, landing at the C & R Depot. We were received by our future Colonel, and under his guidance accompanied by a brass band marched to the Illinois Central R. R. Depot, where we welcomed a column of men from Stark County under C. V. Dickinson. Then both Companies proceeded to the splendid "Sherman House" where the proprietor furnished us a good and substantial breakfast free after which we were marched thru North Clark Street to the city limits, and in a pleasant shady place Wrights Grove, we met several other skeleton companies of men, all eager for U.S. Service. In the afternoon we were duly provided with tin pans, knife and fork and spoon and later in evening with wedge-tents and about 9 P.M. with blankets. So ended our first day's initiation in army service and with the best of spirits we bid farewell, for a time indefinite, to comforts previously enjoyed.

Forenoon of the 21st we were sworn into the service of U.S. by Captain Webb, U.S.A. Being now considered as regular enlisted soldiers, we got our first foretaste of what it meant when the first annexed General Order was issued:

Hdqtrs Camp Webb Fremont Rifles Chicago August 22 1861
By order of acting Col. the following orders are issued Reveille at 5:00 a.m. Drill " 5:30 " Breakfast " 7:00 " Sick " 7:30 " 1st Sargt call " 8:00 " Guard Mount " 9:00 " Comp. and squad drill " 10:00 " Dinner " 12:00 Drill " 2:00 p.m. Dress parade " 5:00 " Supper and retreat " 6:00 " Tattoo " 9:00 " Taps " 9:30 "
So ended the 3rd day
September 1861
From now on it was daily drill and routine to make perfect soldiers out of us. On Sept. 2nd all 10 companies being in camp, an election of Field and Company officers was held, and J. White our energetic acting Colonel was duly elected, as he deserved to be, as he was untiring in his efforts and labored to make us not only good soldiers but also comfortable in all he could.

September 6th we changed from our quarters in N.W. corner to S.E. corner being more shady, and also from wedgetents to the larger Sibley where generally 16 to 18 constituted a mess. September 16th found us donning regular uniforms and same day in progressive order found us also in possession of equippage. On the 17th our Colonel was presented with a horse and accouterments. On the 18th we were mustered into service as a Regiment by Captain Brackett, 2nd U.S. Drag. and said to be under orders from Washington -- so every passing day bro't us closer to the stern realities of soldier life -- till on the 19th, in columns of platoons, after a march to and thru the city, we drilled in front of The Board of Trade Building -- formed in open square and after several spirited and patriotic speeches by Judge Joe Knox and others,the Regiment was presented with its colors and flag from members of above named Board of Trade.

From there we started for the Illinois Central R.R. depot -- and took cars for St. Louis. All along the line of Alton and St. Louis R.R. we saw manifestations of patriotism by supplying us with all they had.

Evening of Sept. 20 arrived in Illinois Town, now East St. Louis and went right aboard steamer, "Belle of Memphis," where we remained over night. The 21st marched in and through St. Louis and halted in front of General J.C. Fremont's Hdqtrs., where we were highly complimented on our soldiery appearance and to make words more sure Mrs. Jessie Fremont tied red, white and blue ribbons to our flag and colors, as our colors had imprinted in its folds a picture of J.C. Fremont scaling the rocky mountains. From there we marched to Benton Barracks where we made ourselves at home in good commodious quarters and were made more perfect in drill until the 22nd of September.

Our Company was assigned as Company A on right of Regiment, one half of the boys were armed with Colt's Revolving rifles. On the 26th, with muskets on our shoulders and heavy loaded knapsacks, the Regiment embarked on three boats and after a rather tedious trip thru' the winding channel of the Missouri, we landed the 2nd of October at Booneville, Missouri where we found the 5th Iowa and 9th Missouri under acting Brigade.

October 1861 - January 1862
Our 3 week stay at Booneville can truly be counted as one of the most pleasant features of our early campaign, as scouting in small parties gave us all the land could afford, both in milk and honey and other things. The Regiment moved in the last two months a distance of 450 miles by car and boat and in addition shorter distances while scouting.

On October 13th we received marching orders, and leaving Companies C and H under the command of Colonel Barnes at Booneville, rest of the Regiment started on its first heavy march to Otterville, where we arrived the 16th and camped beyond -- but oh that first march long to be remembered! While laying there in camp we were brigaded and put into the Center Division of Pope's army -- on October 22nd the two flanking Companies A and K were now fully armed with Colt's revolving rifles and on the 29th the march commenced again. November 1st we passed thru' Warsaw on the Osage River, then on and through Humansville where we first heard of the enemy attacking our advance forces -- unaligning our knapsacks, we started in light marching order and after about 36 hours march reached Springfield, Missouri, about 50 miles distant. On the 5th, on less than one quarter rations, only about one day behind the division which had started almost a week before us, we passed then and in so doing, we gained the nickname of "Illinois Greyhounds."

On the 6th, trains came up too, but we fared no better as to rations, as they did not bring very much, so we had to subsist best as we could, by stealing corn from mule and horses and parching it. Finally on the 9th of November we left Springfield again and reached our Camp near Otterville on the 16th, but on account of poor water, after 2 days, changed, and went in Camp near Syracuse November 20 till the 28th -- move camp again to near Lamine River bottom, where all the forces seem to concentrate and here December 10th we received our first pay from Uncle Sam -- part in greenbacks and part in gold and silver. December 15th at midnight received marching orders and sunrise found us 7 miles from camp, in advance of Brigades consisting of 8th, 18th and 22nd Indiana Volunteers. By 2 p.m. we were 2 miles north of Sedalia and here we were ordered to await further orders. On the 19th the rebel brigade, captured by General Pope and forces, made camp near us till they ere shipped to St. Louis to graduate in old St. Louis Medical College, under instructions from Halleck, and next day, the 20th, we were ordered to march again, but snowing very heavily -- orders were countermanded. We marched the 22nd and by evening were back to camp near Lamine River but had to clear snow from our former tenting places.

About December 24th, Captain J.A. Jordan resigned on account of ill health. H. Curtis was promoted to Captain, Lieutenant Hawes to First Lieutenant and orderly L. B. Morey to Second Lieutenant. It being the dead of winter active operations ceased somewhat for awhile -- but not so, camp drill guard, and fatigue duties, and between these and, supplying wood to keep us comfortable, all our time was well occupied till January 22nd when we received another two months pay. January 25th saw our whole encampment go up in smoke and flames, and us in line of march to renew active operations again.

Various were the rumors of our destination, till evening when we found we ere headed southwest, and then we knew it wasn't St. Louis or any place east of it. That night we camped near Versailles and had a good drenching rain during the night. Next day marched Big Gravois bottom through mud and water -- had some more rain during night which turned to slush and snow by morning. Here we built bridge to cross on -- river being too swollen to ford -- orders to push ahead and surplus baggage burned up, we started out in a snow storm, and, after crossing creek ascended Ozark Mountain range.

[ 1862 ]