I was delighted to recently come across a copy of the Civil War record personally written by my wife’s 2nd great grandfather. He served in the 120th Indiana from 1863 until 1866. He fought at Franklin, TN (Nov. 30, 1864) and was part of Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864 and engaged in several of those major engagements. Particularly interesting is to read his account of Lincoln’s assassination as it impacted his service in the war, and humorously, how some Federal troops were skattered to the wind one afternoon when Confederate troops attacked them by surprise as the boys were playing some card games.
Here is his account just as he wrote it……
War Record of T.J. Williams [b. 1845 d. 1935]
Who enlisted in Co.D. 120th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on the 10th day of Nov 1863 to serve 3 years or during the war. We was located in Vincennes, Indiana in old Camp Knox where our regiment was organized and for three months was engaged in drilling and recruiting and preparing for the front. And during this time [Jan 64] occurred the coldest New Years day and eve. So I was at home on a furlough first day of January 64. I walked from home to Princeton, Indiana, returning to my regiment. It was so cold quite a lot of chickens, hogs and sheep, froze to death. Also one man froze at Camp Knox the first week in Jan 64 and we got our war equipment and our guns and started for the South. Went to Louisville, KY, was there only for a short time. The we marched for Nashville, TN, was there only for a short time and we marched from there to the front, and went into the fight in good earnest on what is known as the Atlanta and Georgia campaign, and for 60 days we was in a fight all the way from Nashville to the fall of Atlanta.
We was in a fight all summer at Big Shanty, Marietta, and nearly all the stations along the southern road to Atlanta. Some of the hardest fight was Columbia and Kingston, where Columbus Benson was shot and killed and Elias [sp?] Briant was wounded. Lost several men at the Battle of Franklin. So after Lee surrendered to Grant, we moved into Raleigh, North Carolina and thought we would soon be discharged and sent home. But low and behold orders came we had to stay until everything was settled up and we stayed there until the 8th of January 1866. I was placed on guard at Gov. Vances [i.e., Zebulon Baird Vance] residence and in a short time we received word that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and one of the most exciting times I ever saw, had to guard the town of Raleigh to keep soldiers from firing and burning it to ashes.
A few things I will never forget while in the service, at one time not engaged in battle. Quite a number of the boys was playing cards having what they term a good time. All of a sudden we heard firing off to the right and the boom of cannon off to the left and officers riding back and forth, and we was soon in line and marching to the firing line where we knew we could have to face death. So the boys began to throw away their cards. No one wanted to be killed with a deck of cards in his pocket. But I never saw a testament thrown away during a battle.
A few outstanding events in my services in the Civil War, one was the surrender of General Lee to Grant. On the March to Atlanta, Georgia we stopped on old farm to eat dinner, had all eat and was sitting around waiting [for] orders, saw the Orderly riding his horse to headquarters, then Division headquarters, hence to Brigade headquarters, and Regimental headquarters with orders that Lee had surrendered to Gen Grant, and of all the [spots?] it took place on that old farm.
The boys shouted and yelled themselves hoarse, and someone set fire to a [sp? Sulphur Time Distillery] and the blaze almost went to the sky. Then from there we went into Raleigh, North Carolina. Took charge of all the government supplies. While there I was called to go to Richmond, Virginia. Was a guard for Gen. Terry [sp?]. I had a very pleasant trip. Went all over Richmond also through old Libby Prison where they kept our soldiers during the war. It was sure a tough looking place. So we passed the summer of 65 at Raleigh while disposing of Government property, and finally on the 8th day of Jan 66 we was discharged and sent home, one of the dearest places on earth. So ended my services in the Civil War, and it was only through the goodness of God that I got through and got home.