Fourth Cavalry History

August 1861, Judge T. Lyle Dickey, of Ottawa, LaSalle county, was authorized by the Secretary of War to raise and organize a regiment of cavalry.

Some time afterwards, but before the Regiment was complete, a controversy arose between the Secretary of War and Governor Yates, in the settlement of which it was conceded that the Governor should commission officers selected by Dickey, and the organization went upon the record as the Fourth Illinois Cavalry.

On the 26th day of September, 1861, the Regiment was mustered into the U. S. military service and soon after took up its line of march for Springfield where it received its arms, which were not removed from their cases, however, until the command arrived at Cairo.

Upon the arrival of the Regiment at Cairo, it went into camp upon the highest ground that could be found where an immense amount of labor was done by the command in the way of log rolling and clearing before a decent camp could be arranged.

Very shortly after getting settled Company C, command by Captain Chas. Townsend was detached and sent to Big Muddy as a bridge guard, and Company A, commanded by Captain E. D. Osband, was detached to serve as escort to General U. S. Grant, in whose service it continued until August, 1863.

In December, 1861, when the reconnaissance of Columbus was ordered, the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, having been assigned to General McClernand's Division, moved with the rest of the army and became the advance body where it kept its place during the entire movement.

At the little village of Milburn, a short distance east of Columbus, Company H was selected to carry dispatches across the country to Mayfield, where it was supposed General C. F. Smith would be found, who had left Paducah at the time that General Grant had left Cairo. General Smith was found encamped a short distance from Mayfield, with whose force the Company camped until the next morning, and with which it moved back as far as the town. Company H then took up its line of march for the Headquarters of General McClernand.

Upon the return of the army to Cairo the Regiment went back to its old quarters, where it remained until the order for a movement upon Fort Henry, when it was loaded on steamers and went as far as Parson's Ferry, on the Tennessee River, and from thence by land to Panther Island, just below Fort Henry.

Early on the morning succeeding the arrival of the army below Fort Henry the Fourth was ordered to take the advance of General McClernand's Division and drive in the rebel pickets, which proved to be a light affair. Following them over the outer works, we were immediately followed by Colonel Oglesby's brigade of infantry, which took possession of the forts and a few prisoners, while we pursued the retreating rebels toward Fort Donelson, meeting with our first loss in the death of a private of Company I.

A few days afterward Colonel Dickey made a reconnaissance, with a part of the Regiment, of Fort Donelson, capturing a picket of about a dozen men. The Regiment moved in advance of General Grant's army upon Fort Donelson, and under General McClernand's command was engaged in that affair of snow and sunshine, rain and sleet.

Immediately following the surrender of Fort Donelson it moved out to Randolph Forges and encamped in and on the property of Hon. John Bell  Co., one of the largest iron companies of Tennessee, where it remained until ordered back to the Tennessee River, opposite the mouth of the Sandy, where it encamped on the farm of a Major Grey, who had fought under Jackson at New Orleans.

It was loaded on steamers and started for Pittsburg Landing, stopping a short time at Savannah and arrived in good time at the lower landing of Pittsburg, where it was disembarked and went into camp on the bluff just back of the graves of some rebels who had been killed by a part of the Thirty-second Illinois Infantry, which had been sent up the river as scouts a short time before.

At Pittsburg Landing it was removed from Gen McClernand's Division and assigned to a brigade command by Brigadier General Louman, except Companies B, C and D, which were assigned to General Hurlbut's command, with which they remained until the week before the battle of the 6th and 7th of April, when Companies E, F, G, H, I, K, L and M were assigned to General Sherman and were moved out to the extreme front on Saturday and went into camp on the left of the old church near the Fifty-third Ohio Infantry.

On the morning of the 6th, while eating breakfast, under quite a shower of bullets, the Regiment was ordered to mount at once and report to General Sherman.

Major M. R. M. Wallace, who was sick at the time, was ordered to proceed to the rear with such company and garrison equipage as could be loaded, and the writer, commanding Company H, was ordered to take command of the Second Battalion, consisting of E, F, G and H, which he retained until the close of the engagement.

After the battle of Pittsburg Landing, - or, more properly, Shiloh, - the Fourth was kept pretty constantly at work scouting the front, and led the van in a raid upon Purdy and the railroad, capturing a train, destroying a considerable amount of track and several bridges.

When the army commenced its movement upon Corinth, after the arrival of General Halleck, that portion of the Regiment under Sherman took the advance upon the right, and continued to work day and night, until the explosion of ammunition in Corinth convinced General Halleck that Beauregard had succeeded in withdrawing his entire army from the place.

After entering Corinth, still in front of Sherman, the Regiment was slowly sent towards the west, finally reaching Memphis in August, 1862, from which place it was moved in September to Trenton, on the line of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, where it remained, scouting in every direction, until the movement down the line of that road and the Mississippi Central began, when, under Colonel Lee, of the Seventh Kansas, commanding a Brigade of Cavalry, it struck Vandorn and Price near Holly Springs, and followed them to Coffeeville, where it lost Lieutenant Colonel McCullough in a night fight, and fell back to Water Valley, and with the withdrawal of General Grant back to the line of the Memphis and Charleston road, Moscow and Collierville.

From Moscow the writer, with Companies C, E, G and F, was sent to Bolivar, with orders to report to Brigadier General Brayman, who was in command at the point, and at the time of our arrival was obtaining forage by sending out a regiment of infantry and two pieces of artillery as a protection to his trains.

After staying at Bolivar about three weeks, the Regiment returned to its headquarters, then stationed at Collierville, where it remained until August, 1863, when it was ordered to Vicksburg, where the Regiment was united, and remained until the expiration of its term of service.

After staying a few days at Vicksburg, the Regiment was sent to the Black River, and was brigaded with the Fifth Iowa Cavalry and Tenth Missouri, with Colonel Winslow for Brigade Commander.

From Vicksburg the Regiment was sent to Natchez, in the winter of 1863-4, and kept busy scouring the country on both sides of the river, for wandering bands of the enemy generally, commanded by Colonel B. G. Farrar.

In the latter part of October, 1864, we received an order covering that part of the Regiment that had not re-enlisted under the order for Veterans, to proceed to Springfield, Ill., to be mustered out of service.

When we left Cairo in February, 1862, we had almost 1,100 men. When we came back to that point in 1864, we had 340, who were mustered out at Springfield, November, 1864.