Warrenville and the American Civil War, October 1862

The second year of the Civil War, 150 years ago, was hard for the nation and the cruel realities of the fight were felt by the brave men who risked their lives to join the Union cause.  In the first two years, 38 men had volunteered as soldiers.

October of 1862 was a harsh welcome to the war for the Warrenville volunteers.  Intimate details of the month were recorded and preserved by Ashley Carpenter, the nephew of Colonel Warren, who was fighting with the 105th Infantry Company D.  On October 1st, rain was pouring down, but the recent Warrenville volunteers joined the other soldiers, finally ready to head out of Chicago and join the fight.  They piled onto the Illinois Central railcars, which left the coach yard at 4:30 a.m.  The train chugged along, eventually pulling into Indianapolis at 7 in the evening, where it halted for the night.  With no accommodations, the men were sprawled over the seats and onto the floor for their night’s rest, until they changed to the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad for the last lap of their ride to Louisville.

As the train passed through the town of Seymour, the soldiers were overwhelmed with their reception.  Ashley wrote “…the generous people gave us all they had in the eatable line for which by me they will long be remembered…to see the expression of patriotism prevalent along the road.  Old men and boys cheered us along with their ‘God Speed,’ mothers and maidens were enthusiastic in greeting us, and little children waved hats, bonnets and handkerchiefs in salutation.  And the ovation was so universal that my patriotism never was so aroused.”  At 3 o’clock on the third day of their journey they arrived at Jeffersonville one mile north of Louisville.  The journey from Chicago lasted 46 hours.  Ashley wrote: “We received our arms and equipage and was until 9 o’clock drawing them.  We then marched three miles, through the city among the encampments of 200,000 soldiers.  Many fell to the rear, others mounted the baggage wagons, and some fainted in the ranks. When we reached camp our clothes were saturated with sweat and we laid down upon the naked Earth to sleep without supper.”

Their march to Frankfort, in pursuit of Rebel Gen. John Morgan, commenced the next day and lasted until daybreak on October 9th, the sixth day of their tiring trek.  Thankfully, for the worn out men, the Confederates had fled town and there was no battle.  When the men prepared to march out again the next morning heading for Lawrenceburg, about 200 disabled were left back at Frankfort, including Warrenville soldiers Albert Buchanan and Henry Wyman.  Buchanan and Wyman quickly rejoined their regiment, but Freddie Cooper and Ashley Carpenter soon fell ill and required care from Dr. Potter.

In a couple of days they were feeling well enough to march with their comrades.  Notwithstanding the night’s snowstorm of four inches, the wake-up gun blast went off a half hour earlier than the usual 4 o’clock signal, and the camp was readying for the next leg of their march, on October 26th.  The men passed through Bardstown, New Haven, and Hodgensville covering over 150 miles on their way to Bowling Green.  The long journey took its toll on many soldiers and Bowling Green was long remembered for the miserable state of health of the men, where many of the regiment died.  The Warrenville volunteers were all suffering as they were thrust into the middle of the war.  While at camp, Albert Buchanan shot himself accidentally in the right thumb.  It was clear that their health and their sensibilities were betraying them.

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