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The following is an Abbreviated Chronology of the service of 1st. Regiment Illinois Volunteer Light Artillery – Battery A (Chicago Light Artillery)
Excerpted from: History of Battery A, First Illinois Light Artillery Volunteers—Charles B. Kimbell—Chicago, 1899
1847–November: A unit was organized as the “Chicago Light Artillery” under the leadership of Capt. R. K. Smith.
1861–April, 21: In response to the firing at Fort Sumter and of President Lincoln’s call for volunteers, the first body of troops including “Chicago Light” left Chicago on the Cairo expedition.
1861–April, 24: The steamer “Baltic” in passing on the Mississippi disregarded a blank shot summoning her to land. Then, as a solid ball passed her bow, she decided otherwise. This, from Battery A, was the first shot fired from a field piece in the war for the union.
1861–July, 16: The battery is assigned three years federal service and 85 men mustering in are given 10 days furlough to visit their homes.
1861–September: Gen. Grant orders a movement on Paudcah, KY., forty five miles up the Ohio River at the mouth of the Tennessee. There the battery stayed until the following February.
1861–November: Battery A receives two new howitzers and now has six guns in its unit.
1862–February: Moved up the Tennessee River and landed at Fort Heiman. Took possession of a rebel camp to find campfires burning with hot corn bread and pea coffee on some of them.
1862–April: Engaged in battle at Shiloh, Tennessee.
At the end of the first day the battery had fired 838 rounds and suffered the loss of four men with twenty six wounded.
1862–December: Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi. “Toward the later part of the fight we occupied a very exposed position within two hundred yards of the enemy’s works, where we went to work, sending half-second shells among their works so rapidly the rebels found it impossible to return the fire. This we kept up until our ammunition was exhausted, about fifteen minutes before the fort surrendered with its 6,000 prisoners and 10,000 stand of arms.”
1863–July: Fourteen men on a special mission to find forage for the horses, and three miles inside enemy lines, are taken captive and held at various detainment facilities until exchanged in November of 1864.
1863–December: Christmas in Belfont, Alabama. “Here we experienced some of the coldest weather in our whole army service. Pools of water froze over hard enough to hold our mule team and wagon. The black-smith made a couple pairs of skates and we utilized them for three days on a small pond near the camp.”
1864–April: Toward Chattanooga on the Atlanta Campaign. “As the battery left toward Chattanooga, Mr. Baker came to see them off, bringing with him a bag of nice cakes from the young ladies for their friends in the battery. Miss Mollie sends an extra lot of nice cookies for which she has my sincere thanks.”
1864–November: A special presentation. “Shortly after we reached Chattanooga it was discovered that the battery was entitled to one more lieutenant, and the comrades surprised Spencer S. Kimbell by securing a commission for him and presenting him with a beautiful sword, sash and belt.”
1865–June: Ordered home for muster out. “The war being virtually ended we were finally ordered home for muster out. We arrived home July 3rd., and were wel-comed by kind and true friends, to enjoy again the comforts and sweets of civil life. A grand banquet was given in honor of our return and our boys took up the new struggle of life, happy in the consciousness of having done their share towards securing a peace to the country, which it is hoped will be as lasting as the government itself.”
This canon is on display at the Marrin County Museum of Civil War Artillery Technology. Visitors to the museum can see it opperate on the second full moon of each fifth year.
Call museum for details and their current firing schedule
Captian Beauregard Hapenstance was once quoted: "Drink heartilly men, in this way the women of these parts may begin to approach your expectations."
More information about the battery can be found in our brochure. Click on the photo to view or print.