18th Missouri History
HISTORY OF THE 18th MISSOURI
Between July and November 1861 the citizens of Laclede County, Missouri saw the organisation and mustering-in of the 18th Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry. This, in response to Abraham Lincoln's call for State's troops to enrol for three years in order to "preserve the Union". Many of the Union states and individuals from Confederate states rallied to the flag, as well as thousands of immigrants. Among them were natives of: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, New York, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Connecticut, Michigan, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Maryland. Foreign born volunteers included: Germans, Irish, English, Scots, Welsh, Swiss, French and Canadians. Company E's majority of men hailed from Indiana, closely followed by Missouri then Kentucky. Being a 'border' state loyalties were critically divided and many native Missourians would find themselves fighting kin under opposing flags.
The Regiment's tour of duty started quietly enough in the summer and autumn of 1861, guarding railroads at Weston, Missouri. This peaceful prelude was not to last long, in March 1862 the Regiment was ordered to join the 2nd Brigade of Brigadier General Prentiss's 6th Division, Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing. On Sunday 6th April the Regiment was camped at one of the southernmost encampments when the Confederate Army under General A. S. Johnson struck at dawn. The men were eating their breakfast when the 'long roll' called them to arms. They fought bravely but were overwhelmed, suffering many casualties. Approximately one hundred of them held the famous rearguard action with General Prentiss at the 'Hornet's Nest'. Company E's casualties included: 4 men killed, 9 wounded, 4 taken prisoner, one of whom died later at the infamous Andersonville prisoner of war camp.
The battle of Shiloh was the Regiment's first and bloodiest but not it's last by a long shot. At the end of April many of the Regiment took part in the siege of Corinth and ultimately the battle of Corinth. After a more relaxed period once again guarding railways, the Regiment found itself at Fort Chewella Tennessee, where it was involved in many skirmishes with guerrillas and irregular troops ranging from Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi. Returning to Corinth in June 1863 the Regiment was ordered to Pulaski , Tennessee in November where it once again served railroad duty until April 1864.
The last year of the war became the Regiment's busiest. From May 1st it fought on the Atlanta campaign under Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. The Regiment saw action at: Resaca, Pumpkin Vine Creek, Dallas, New Hope Church, Allatoona Hills, Marietta, Kennesaw Mountain, Nickajack Creek Ruffs Mills, Chattahoochee River, Jonesborough, Lovejoy Station, and the battle of Atlanta. It then embarked upon the famous 'March to the Sea' culminating in the siege of Savannah in December 1864.................
1865 saw the start of the 'Carolina's Campaign involving the Regiment in several skirmishes until its last major action at Bentonville in March.After taking part in the surrender of General Johnson's Army on the 26th of April, the Regiment travelled to Washington where it took part in the Grand Review on the 24th May. The Regiment was then moved to Louisville Kentucky where on the 18th July the 18th Missouri was mustered-out. The Regiment served the Union well and were welcomed home to Missouri as heroes.
Some facts regarding Co. E include:
Fifty eight men mustered-in, in July 1861.
The youngest volunteer was 17 years old on enlistment. The oldest was George Meikle, a 55 year-old Scot.
Eight men died in action, seven as a result of their wounds.
Eighteen men were wounded in action and survived.
Twenty one men were made prisoners of war.
Twenty men died as a result of accidents, diseases and 'causes unknown'. Fatal diseases included: measles, tuberculosis, small pox and dysentery.
Four men were dishonourably discharged, although Pvt. Thomas Wood, a native of Indiana was pardoned by President Abraham Lincoln.
Fourteen men deserted.
One hundred men answered roll-call upon the field at Shiloh on Sunday April 6th 1862.
A total of one hundred and seventy one men served in Co.E between 1861and 1865.
Fifty eight men mustered-out in July 1865.
The Regiment had several reunions after the war, eventually there numbers were fewer as the years went by and there were less old soldiers to attend. The last survivor of Co. E was Charles Grabosch, a native of Berlin who had been one of the original Corporals in July 1861. He had survived four years of hard service, been wounded, fought in innumerable battles and had a spell as a prisoner of war after being captured at Shiloh. He mustered-out with the 'boys' as a 2nd Lieutenant but was to survive them all, eventually dieing in his adopted state of Missouri at the age of ninety five years on the 12th December 1936.
One observer described Sherman's Army as a "seasoned, hardy bunch of men". On the march to the sea they became known as Sherman's 'bummers'- a term that was to strike terror into the hearts of the Confederates who stood in their line of march. Sherman said; "The longer this war continues the less these men look like soldiers but more like common labourers".
As a General he had great respect for his fighting men and as a man, great admiration for his Western volunteers.
We re-enact in their name, but always in their shadow