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A Soldier's Diary
Diary of Wallace P. Benson, Algonquin, IL

Company H, 36th Illinois Volunteers
Fox River Regiment, Woodstock Rifles

September 1861 to February 1862

September 10 - Camp Hammond, Aurora, IL

I went to Aurora to join the Woodstock Rifles.
(Ed.- Joined Company H which was nicknamed the Woodstock Rifles of 36th Regiment. Regiment's nickname was Fox River Regiment.)

September 12

I was sworn into the Fox River Regiment by Col. Greusel and into the service of the U.S. by Col. Webb U.S.A.

September 13

Misses Shoemacker, Lamb and Wilcox from home and Miss Erwin of Aurora called. I stood guard last night for the first time.
(Ed.- Miss Louisa Shoemaker, age 26 daughter of Charles, a clothier whose sons Jerome and San were already fighting in 15th Illinois Volunteer Regiment. Miss Jenette Lamb, age 21 was the sister of Ebenezer who was enrolled in Company H of the 36th Illinois. Miss Mary Wilcox, age 20 was sister of David Wilcox who was in same company as Ebenezer and Wallace P. Benson.)

September 15 - Sunday

The girls went home.

September 19

Edwin, Elvira, Guard and Sarah and others came to our camp (Camp Hammond) on excursion.
(Ed.- Edwin was brother of Wallace P. who was 28 years old and worked on Jesse Miller's farm. Elvira Miller was 24 years old and daughter of Jesse Miller. Guard was probably nick name for Gardner Southworth who also worked on Jesse Miller's farm. Sarah Miller was daughter of Jesse Miller who was 19 or 20 years old.)

September 22

Orlando, Orren and I went to Aurora to the Catholic Church. Our uniforms arrived.

[Orlando Nash was from Algonquin area and joined Company H of 36th Illinois. Orren was Wallace P. Benson's brother who was two years younger than Wallace P. Benson.]

September 23 - Mustered in into the U.S. Army

We receiver our equipment and sent our clothes home.

September 24 - Regiment is attached to Department of Missouri

I left Camp Hammond with the rest of Fox River Regiment at three o'clock and marched to Aurora. After many a parting had been said, the train (composed of twenty five coaches and two engines) moved off amidst the cheers of the excited multitude.

September 25 - Quincy, Illinois

4 o'clock a.m. One of the coaches ran off at Galesburg. No one hurt and we found that the rear coach had broken loose and left the Colonel and officers behind. They were soon sent for and arrived alright.

6 a.m. We left Galesburg for Quincy where we arrived at 5 o'clock p.m. in good spirits. Stayed all night in the cars. Gen. Milligan's men came to our quarters and told many hard stories of the great fight of Lexington.

September 26 - St. Louis, Missouri

We started on the (steamship) Warsaw for St. Louis, which place was reached in safety at ten o'clock p.m.

September 27

We armed ourselves at the U.S. arsenal and returned to the boat and stayed all night.

September 28 - Rolla, Missouri

We embarked on the Pacific Railroad for Camp Rolla, at which place we pitched our tents.

October 10

Rolla. The 13th and 36th Ill. U.S.V. passed reviews by General Wyman.

October 19

The cavalry of the 13th. General Wyman, came in with 74 prisoners, having killed between 60 and 70.

November 1 - Expedition against Freeman's Forces

Lieut. Col. Joslyn, with two companies, left the place (Rolla) on a scouting expedition.

November 3

Col. Greusel, with Companies B and E, with a company of two from the 4th Iowa left on a scouting expedition.

November 6

Lieut. Col. Joslyn came in with a number of horses as contraband.

November 7

Col. Greusel came in with a number of ------- among which was one Capt. Phillips and 40 or 50 horses and mules and 300-400 head of cattle.

November 9

The paymaster was here. Each private received $33.80.

November 16

I went out with the rest of the company to dark cave, six miles from Rolla. It is one of the most splendid scenes I ever saw. General Wyman and the 13th Ill. Volunteers came in from Springfield.

November 19

General Sigel came in with his division.

November 27

We built a fireplace in our tent. all in the company having one and nearly all the regiment. Cold and windy. Sigel marched his command to the front.

November 28

Very pleasant. Cal. Eb. Munroe and Vern getting well of the measles.
(Ed.- Vern is probably Vernon N . Ford who for several years was village clerk and lived on North Main Street. Cal was probable Calvin Jones who was Private in Company H from Nunda, town next to Crystal Lake. Eb was Ebenezer B. Lamb from Algonquin who was Private in Company H. Munroe is unknown person.
Measles was generally one of the first epidemics to sweep through the ranks. Measles often put whole army on hold for two to four weeks. Most serious problems were with units from rural areas since many farmers were never exposed to the disease unlike the city volunteers. Whiskey was often prescribed with rest and proper care not to report back to duty too soon or a relapse often occurred.)

November 29

We hand the first snow.

November 30

Lavern Stranton, Orlando Nash, Orren and I went over to General Sigel's and Asboth's camp. They formed a city of tents.
(Ed.- All three men came from the Algonquin area. Orlando was a farmer nearer to Crystal Lake. He was 20 years old when joined 36th. Before the war, he worked on his father's farm. Orren was Wallace P. Benson's older brother. His age was 34 when he joined the Woodstock Rifles Company.)

December 5

General Sigel's division came out on drill with artillery, the first we have seen.

December 13

Col. Greusel ordered read on dress parade that command would be turned over to Lieut. Col. Joslyn until he cleared himself of a charge made by I. N. Buck.

December 20

Commenced snowing which ended in a heavy storm. Snow about 4 inches deep.

December 22

Between two and three cavalry left the camp (Rolla) for the South with sealed orders.

December 24

  General Curtis took command at Rolla and the surrounding country.

January 10

Miron Harris and I worked at carpenter work at $1.50 per day for Mr. Jones.

(Ed.- Miron Harris was from the Algonquin area. Son of a local farmer, Hiram Harris. Miron joined Company H of 36th Illinois Regiment at age of 26 years old.)

January 11

I commenced work for Mr. Weber carpentering.

January 14 - Duty at Rolla, Missouri

We were ordered to strike tents at 9 o'clock and at two we left encampment and marched three miles and camped for the night, having to scrape away the snow.,

January 15 - Gasconade on the Little Tiny, Missouri

We had our tents loaded before daylight, and had to wait for an advance to two companies of infantry and a battery of artillery when we fell in at six o'clock and marched about 10 miles along the R. R. following the "Little Tiny" through very rough country and poor camping on the Little Tiny near the Gasconade.

January 16 - Big Tiny River, Missouri

Orren and I were relieved from guard and at eight o'clock our tents were all struck and under way. We marched through a barren country about nine miles and camped on the Big Tiny, a beautiful camping ground. Col. Greusel came up with us and took command.

January 17

We decamped at eight o'clock and took the rear, the 12th, 17th and part of the third taking the advance. We left the valley and traveled though a barren, very rough but well wooded. At three camped across the Cribidear from town in a wheat field on the south side of the valley. (Ed.- Cribidear

January 18

We spent the day rambling up and down the valley, picking dried grapes, exploring caves, precipices, at the base of which the Robideaus raises from the largest spring I ever saw.

January 19 Camp Sullivan, Missouri

We were ordered out to support the picket We furnished ourselves with full rations of pork.

January 20

We stayed in camp all day.

January 21

Col. Phelps regiment came in. We went out north of town to a cave, the finest I ever saw. We had orders to be ready to march at daybreak.

January 22

We left Camp Sullivan at daylight and marched through a continuation of vallies, which were quite fertile, the distance of nine or ten miles and camped at 1 p.m. near fine water.

January 24 - Lebanon, Missouri

We decamped at daybreak and traveled about eight miles and camped about three quarters of a mile west of Lebanon or the edge of the prairie. We found in Lebanon what we had often read-effects of civil war. The town was nearly depopulated and the cavalry quartered themselves and horses in vacant houses. It is very pleasantly situated with a very fine prairie on either side

January 25

I went to town. Bought the U. S. Dispensary by Wood H. Jones.

January 26

We were on brigade drill for the first time occupying the right wing in place of the 24th Missouri. Brigadier General Osterhaus commanding. We had a thunder storm.

January 29

Our company stood picket guard, I with the rest. It rained and snowed, being one of the most disagreeable nights this winter.

January 30

I and boys went to town and called on two families. Had quite a jolly time with a rebel gal. Very cold.

January 31

Junius Jones came into camp. He is second lieutenant of the first Iowa volunteers.

February 2 - Advance on Springfield

February 6 -

I saw Sigel. He and Asboth came into Lebanon with their brigade.

February 9

We received $26 from U. S. and had a general time of settling with the boys. We received orders from Brigadier General Osterhaus that we would march at 6 a.m. and probably would engage with Price. He closed with a touching appeal to our patriotism.

February 10

We decamped at six leaving our knapsacks behind, marching fifteen miles and camped in the edge of the timber near a rocky stream in quite a pleasant valley. I with a number of boys went over to Nathan H. Knights and stood guard to protect his property. Had the first meal since I left home in a home.

February 11 - Marshfield, Missouri

We decamped at day break and marched to Marshfield and camped for the night. Marshfield is a very pretty little town but nearly deserted.

February 12

We decamped early and had a very tedious march. Drove in Prices pickets. As we came into our camping grounds a portion of our men were attacked. The 36th were drawn up in order of battle amidst a considerable excitement. But the enemy were soon routed by our cavalry.

February 13 - Springfield, Missouri

We were on the march early, sleeping but little during the night, and marched in order of battle, nearly all the way to Springfield with no further opposition. Springfield is quite a large town, very pleasantly situated, with fertile prairies on either side. We camped near town. Curtis and Davis followed down the Wilson Creek Road.

February 14 - Pursuit of Price into Arkansas

We were again on the march at daybreak, and came on to a fine prairie when the report came that there was an enemy a ahead and we were again drawn up in line for a fight. But they soon disappeared and we followed, marching about fifteen miles over a beautiful prairie. Gen. Sigel commanding our division.

February 15

The dawn found us on the march passing through a very fine country mostly prairie. We traveled twenty three miles and stopped but not to sleep for the orders were to be, on the march at midnight. Price was eight miles ahead and the whole camp was wild with delight.

February 16 - Cassville, Missouri

We started at three in the morning in hopes to find Price but a few miles ahead, but we were disappointed. He had been attacked in the rear by Curtis and Davis but maintained his march onward with considerable rapidity, leaving now and then a broken wagon behind, some of them being burned. We marched about twenty five miles and camped near Cassville. The advance had a smart engagement. Beyond Keatsville we could hear the cannon plainly.

February 17

We did not start very early, thinking that we could not overtake the advance. But about two o'clock we heard the cannons roar and the news came for us and we had a little double quick. But it was over and we camped after marching about fifteen miles.

February 18

We decamped about eight o'clock and marched eight miles and camped in a valley near the finest water we have seen also near the place where our advance and Price engaged. By what I can learn twelve of our men were killed and quite a number wounded. We were unable to find out how many secesh were killed but find a good many dragged away in the brush. (Ed.- Secesh is a term used for rebels.)

February 19

We remain in camp, cooking rations.

February 20 - Sugar Creek near Pea Ridge, Arkansas

We took up our line of march about eight o'clock and passed one of Ben McCullock's grounds on Sugar Creek. Traveled about twelve miles and camped on the enemy's old camping ground.

February 21

We remained in camp. Went about three miles and took wheat secesh apples we wanted. Forty of the Benton Cavalry were out and took some secesh whisky and were poisoned. The captain is dead.

February 22

Had a light thunder storm. Various reports are in camp bout our going ahead but we are unable to learn anything definite.

February 28 - Bentonville, Arkansa

I went with a foraging team for meat. Passed through Bentonville on our way. It is burned to the ground, not a single store being left.