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Behind the Guns

The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery

Thaddeus C.S. Brown, Samuel J. Murphy, and William G. Putney. Edited with a For

Publication Year: 2000

Much has been written of the infantry and the cavalry during the Civil War, but little attention has been paid the artillery. Through the battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge in 1863 and the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and with General Sherman’s forces on the famous March to the Sea, the acts of a courageous fighting group are vividly recounted in Behind the Guns: The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery. Originally published in 1965 in a limited edition, this regimental history of a light artillery unit was written by three of its soldiers, including the bugler.


Battery I was formed in 1861 by Charles W. Keith of Joliet and Henry B. Plant of Peoria. More than a hundred men were mustered into service in December near Springfield and left for Cairo in February 1862. The battery trained at Camp Paine across the Ohio River in Kentucky until March, when the men were dispatched to the South. During the war, the Battery was attached to three different armies: the Army of the Mississippi, the Army of the Ohio, and the Army of the Cumberland.


Clyde C. Walton’s foreword and the narrative discuss the variety of weapons used by the unit, including James, Parrott, and Rodman guns and the bronze, muzzle-loading Napoleons that fired twelve-pound projectiles. The book also includes an account of the prisoner-of-war experience of Battery I lieutenant Charles McDonald, biographical sketches of the battery soldiers, and eighteen maps and five line drawings.


Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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p. v-v

List of Maps

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p. vi-vi

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pp. vii-xxiv

Whether the experiences of the men of Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery, were similar to the experiences of members of other artillery units is not certain. Much attention has been paid to the foot soldiers of the infantry units and 'to the men who rode to war with the cavalry, but not much attention has been centered on field artillery units. Many more...

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pp. xxv-2

The history of Battery I is only one of many that may and have been written of hundreds of regiments and batteries that took an active part in the Great War of the Rebellion.
Each man who served during that eventful period feels that he would like to have his relatives, children and friends know how well...

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1. Battery I is Mustered into Service

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pp. 3-12

In the fall of of 1861 Charles W. Keith, of Joliet, Ills., received a Captain's commission from Governor [Richard] Yates, and was authorized to recruit a battery of light artillery. He opened a recruiting office at Joliet, and appointed men as recruiting officers at other points near Joliet to enlist men for the battery for three years'...

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2. Early Campaigns and Garrison Duty

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pp. 13-21

Pope's army being ordered to reinforce [Major General Henry W.] Halleck's force in front of Corinth, Mississippi,1 a fleet of transports conveyed the troops on the river, up the Tennessee River to Hamburg Landing [Tennessee]. The battery, on board the Antelope, proceeded up the Mississippi River as far as Hickman, Kentucky, where she tied up for the night. The Mississippi River...

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3. The Battle of Perryville

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pp. 22-47

Orders had already been given to the battery to be ready to march at a moment's notice, so when the order came to move, September 6th, all were prepared to pack their traps and get ready to move. The "Pea Ridge Brigade," consisting of the 36th Illinois, 44th Illinois, 2nd Missouri and 15th Missouri Reg'ts, with...

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4. The Bloody Battle of Chickamauga

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pp. 48-81

In which Battery I participates in the advance towards Chattanooga called the Tullahoma Campaign, and as a part of Major General Gordon Granger's Reserve Corps, advances into northern Alabama. From Stevenson the Battery had a hard march to Chattanooga, and then to Rossville, Georgia, where the stage was set for the bloody battle of...

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5. The Atlanta Campaign

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pp. 82-118

ON MARCH 4th, after a two weeks' extension of furlough," the battery "veterans" boarded the cars of the Michigan Central R. R. to pro cede to the front, viz. Indianapolis, Ind., Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., to Chattanooga, Tenn., at which place they arrived March 8th, and joined the men left in charge of the guns and...

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6. With Sherman to the Sea

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pp. 119-134

The following is taken from Sherman's Memoirs.1
On the 12th of November the railroad and telegraph communications with the rear were broken, and the army stood detached from all friends, dependent on its own resources and supplies. No time was to be lost; all the detachments were ordered to march rapidly for Atlanta, breaking up the railroad...

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7. The End of the War: Aftermath

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pp. 135-144

None of the three men who compiled this history of Battery I were present with the Battery when it marched out of Savannah into the Carolinas. The Battery participated in the entire campaign, and was in the -vicinity of Raleigh, North Carolina, when Johnston surrendered to Sherman. The chapter which ends their work and which covers the period January 1...

Appendix 1: Life in Rebel Prisons

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pp. 145-154

Appendix 2: Personnel of Battery I

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pp. 155-164

Appendix 3: A Song of Battery I

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pp. 165-168


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pp. 169-180

The Shawnee Classics Series

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809390373
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809323425

Publication Year: 2000