Illinois 38th Infantry

My paternal grandfather’s great-uncle, Eli H. Dowell, was in the 38th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company K, of the Union Army during the American Civil War. His unit took place in many actions in what was considered “the war in the west”, including the major battles of Perryville, Stones River (Murfreesboro), and Chickamauga.

Chronology of the regiment’s movements during the war:

38th Illinois Infantry

The THIRTY-EIGHTH INFANTRY ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in September 1861, by Colonel William P. Carlin. September 20, 1861, was ordered to Pilot Knob, Missouri, receiving its arms en route. Colonel Carlin was placed in command of the post. October 20, marched to Fredericktown, and 21st was engaged in the battle of that place with the enemy under Jeff. Thompson.

The Regiment remained at Pilot Knob during the winter.

March 3, 1862, moved to Reeves’ Station, on Black River, arriving on the 10th. Here the troops, consisting of Twenty-first, Thirty-third and Thirty-eighth Illinois Infantry, Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Illinois Cavalry, First Indiana Cavalry, and Sixteenth Ohio Battery, were organized into the Division of South-east Missouri, under command of Brigadier General F. Steele. First Brigade, Colonel Carlin commanding, consisted of Twenty-first and Thirty-eighth Illinois Infantry, Fifth Illinois Cavalry, and Sixteenth Ohio Battery.

March 31, moved from Reeves’ Station to Doniphan. April 17, crossed Current River. 21st, reached Pocahontas, Arkansas.

April 30, marched for Jacksonport, Arkansas, arriving May 4.

May 10, the Twenty-first and Thirty-eighth were ordered to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 220 miles distant. This march was made in ten days, a day and a half of which time was spent in ferrying Black and Current Rivers. May 24, arrived at Hamburg Landing. Moved to the front, and were before Corinth during the last days of the siege – in Second Brigade Fourth Division, Left Wing Army of Mississippi, Colonel Carlin commanding Brigade, Brigadier General Jeff. C. Davis commanding Division, and Major General John Pope commanding Army of the Mississippi.

Marched to Danville, Booneville, back to Corinth, and to Jacinto. During the last of June, marched to Ripley, and returned by forced marches, arriving July 4, 1862. Remained in camp till August 14, when marched with the Division to join the Army of the Ohio, under General Buell. Passing through Iuka, Mississippi, crossed the Tennessee at Eastport; thence marched via Florence, Alabama, Lawrenceburge, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tennessee, Bowling Green, Mumfordsville, Elizabethtown, and West Point, Kentucky, arriving at Louisville, Kentucky, September 26, 1862, having marched, night and day, about 500 miles.

October 1, marched from Louisville, in the Thirty-third Brigade, Ninth Division, Army of the Ohio – Colonel Carlin commanding Brigade, and General Robert B. Mitchell commanding Division.

October 8, engaged in battle of Perryville, Major D. H. Gilmer commanding and captured an ammunition train, two caissons and about 100 prisoners. Was honorably mentioned in General Mitchell’s report of the battle. Joined in pursuit of Bragg as far as Crab Orchard, and then marched through Lancaster, Danville, Lebanon and Bowling Green, to Edgefield Junction, near Nashville, arriving November 9.

Went on a scout to Harpeth Shoals with Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteer, and returned November 20, having destroyed a large quantity of salt, and captured a rebel wagon trail and one hundred horses and mules.

Advanced from Nashville, December 26, 1862, and with the Brigade (Second Brigade, First Division, Right Wing of Army of Cumberland), charged a battery at Knob Gap, near Nolensville, capturing two guns. Regimental loss, 3 killed and 8 wounded.

Engaged in the battle of Stone River, from December 30, 1862, to January 4, 1863. December 31, the Brigade was heavily engaged, repulsed three heavy charges, and held the position until the enemy, having driven Johnson’s Division, came heavily on the flank and forced the line to retire. Regiment lost in this engagement, 34 killed, 109 wounded, and 34 missing.

Encamped at Murfreesboro until June. Meantime the Right Wing was changed to the Twentieth Army Corps.

When the enemy advanced on Tullahoma, the Twentieth Army Corps moved on Liberty Gap, and engaged the enemy, June 24, 25 and 26. On the 25th, the Thirty-eighth was ordered to relieve the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, of General Willich’s Brigade of General Johnson’s Division, who were hotly pressured by the enemy. The Thirty-eighth charged across a plowed field, under heavy fire, and drove the enemy from their works, capturing the flag of the Second Arkansas. June 26, skirmished with the enemy all day, losing 3 killed and 19 wounded. That night the enemy withdrew.

Marched through Manchester, and camped at Winchester, Tennessee. August 17, 1863, crossed the Cumberland Mountains to Stevenson, Alabama. 30th, crossed the Tennessee River, at Caperton’s Ferry. Crossed Sand Mountain, and camped in Will’s Valley. September 9, crossed Lookout Mountain, and camped in Broomtown Valley, about 50 miles south of Chattanooga.

September 13 and 14, re-crossed Lookout Mountain to Will’s Valley. 16th, ascended Lookout Mountain, and marched 25 miles, on the top, to Stevens’ Gap, in Pigeon Mountains. 17th, at dark, moved to the left, to Pond Springs. 19th, marched past Crawfish Springs, and entered the battle of Chickamauga, near Gordon’s Mills. Double quickening, a line was formed, under fire, and was hotly engaged till dark. September 20, was moved to the left. Went into position at 10 A.M., and was heavily engaged. The enemy, pressing through a gap made by the withdrawal of General Woods’ Division, forced the line back, and the Brigade narrowly escaped capture. Was re-formed on the hills, in the rear of the battle ground, and marched toward McFarland’s farm. Was then marched toward the right, where General Thomas was continuing the fight. After dark, returned to McFarland’s farm. Loss, Lieutenant Colonel D. H. Gilmer, killed, and Major Alden severely wounded. Of 301 men who entered the fight, 180 were killed, wounded or missing.

September 21, Captain W. C. Haris, being relieved from Brigadier General Carlin’s staff, took command of the Regiment. 22d, moved into Chattanooga, and remained till the last of October, working of fortifications, etc. The Twentieth Army Corps was broken up, and Twenty-first and Thirty-eighth Illinois, One Hundred and First Ohio and Eighty-first Indiana were assigned to First Brigade, First Division, Fourth Army Corps.

October 25, 1863, marched to Bridgeport, Alabama, and went into winter quarters. January 26, 1864, moved, through Chattanooga, to Ooltawah. On the night of February 17, moved out with a detachment of Fourth Michigan Cavalry, and, at daylight, surprised and captured a rebel outpost, a few miles from Dalton, Georgia, and returned to camp in the afternoon.

February 29, 1864 the Regiment re-enlisted, and was mustered March 16, 1864. Started for Illinois, March 28. Arrived at Springfield, Illinois, April 8. Rendezvoused at Mattoon.

May 14, moved from Mattoon, via Indianapolis, to Louisville. Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Chapman took command of the Regiment at Louisville, May 17. Arrived at Nashville, 21st. 22d, a train bearing part of the Regiment was thrown from the track, by a torpedo, and several men injured.

May 27, left Chattanooga with a drove of cattle, which at Resaca was increased to 1,700 head, and arrived at Ackworth, June 8. On the 9th, re-joined the Brigade. 10th, moved upon the enemy at Pine Top. Engaged near Pine Top, till 18th, and at Kenesaw Mountain until July 3. 3d, passed through Marietta. 4th, were engaged at Smyrna.

July 5, reached the Chattahoochie River. 12th, crossed the Chattahoochie, at Power’s Ferry. 20th, crossed Peach Tree Creek. 21st, engaged at outer lines before Atlanta. 22d, threw up works before Atlanta. 26th, moved to works protecting rear and left of the lines. August 1, the Corps relieved the Twenty-third Corps, on the left. August 25, withdrew from the lines in the night. 26th, Regiment was rear guard, and had a brisk skirmish. 31st, on railroad below Rough and Ready. September 1, engaged in the battle of Jonesboro. September 2, moved to Lovejoy, and threw up works on the left of the lines. 8th, camped at Atlanta.

Loss of the Thirty-eighth, in the campaign, 4 killed, 36 wounded, 3 missing. October 3, marched in pursuit of Hood, via Marietta, Ackworth and Allatoona, to Kingston, thence to Rome, Resaca, Ship’s Gap, Summerville, to Gaylorsville, Alabama, and after halting a few days, marched to Chattanooga, arriving October 30, 1864.

October 31, the First Brigade started, as escort to wagon train of Fourth Corps, for Huntsville, the remainder of the Corps going by rail. Passing through Shell Mound, Bridgeport and Stevenson, crossed Cumberland Mountain at Tantallon. Passed through Cowan, Dechard, Winchester, Salem, and Fayetteville, rejoining the Corps at Pulaski, Tennessee, November 12, 1864. November 23, Lieutenant Colonel Chapman died, and the command devolved upon Captain A. M. Pollard.

Arrived at Columbia, Tennessee, November 24. November 25 and 26, threw up works, and skirmished with the enemy. 27th, crossed Duck River in the night. 28th, threw up works opposite the ford. 29th, moved, and threw up works on the left flank. Withdrew in the night, and marched through Spring Hill, passing a large rebel camp. Marched alongside the train to Franklin, with rebel cavalry on the flanks.

30th, entered Franklin. About half past four the enemy advanced, driving in our skirmishers, but were driven back by the main line. Withdrew, at midnight, and crossed the Harpeth River, reached Nashville. December 1, occupied in building fortifications and doing outpost duty. 15th, was placed in position near the Hardin pike, and at four o’clock P.M., were in the charge on Montgomery Hill, and among the first to enter the enemy’s works. 16th, was in the reserve line, and joined in pursuit, when the enemy’s line was broken. Was in pursuit to Lexington, Alabama. Marched to Huntsville, arriving January 5, 1865. Remained at Huntsville until March 13, 1865 – Lieutenant Colonel Ed. Colyer taking command February 1.

March 13, proceeded, by rail, to Strawberry Plains, East Tennessee; 24th, moved to Lick Creek, near Bull’s Gap. April 3, Brigade was ordered on an expedition to Ashville, North Carolina.

Returned 11th. 20th, took cars for Nashville. June 7, the non-veteran Regiments having been mustered out, the Twenty-first and Thirty-eighth Illinois were assigned to Second Brigade, First Division, Fourth Army Corps, the Brigade also containing Ninth, Thirtieth and Thirty-fifth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, Colonel J. C. B. Leeman, commanding Brigade.

June 17, moved to Johnsonville. 19th embarked on Steamer Palestine. 20th, passed Cairo. 25th, landed at New Orleans. July 12, embarked on Steamer Clinton, and landed at Indianola, Texas, 15th. 17th, marched to Green Lake. August 8 and 9, marched through Victoria, and camped on the Guadaloupe River.

December 31, 1865, Regiment stationed at Victoria, Texas. Regiment mustered out of United States service and ordered to Springfield, Illinois, for final payment and discharge.

~ Illinois Adjutant General’s Report – Regimental and Unit Histories, 1861 – 1866

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Grandpa Omar’s father, Harry Clyde, was a Spanish-American War veteran, serving as a corporal in company B of the 4th Illinois Regiment. His father, Seth Thomas Dowell (listed as “Thomas” in many references) was a private in Company B of the 27th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry for the Union in the Civil War. Seth Thomas survived the war to live out the remainder of his life in Jasper County.

As the Dowell line relocated from Breckinridge County, Kentucky, to the Newton/Willow Hill area of Jasper County, the older brother, Eli (born 1841), mustered into service while still a resident of the state of Kentucky. Seth Thomas (born 1843), resided in Jasper County, Illinois, at the start of the war.

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