George A. Woodruff's Account of the Battle of Brice’s Cross Roads
Written June 10th 1897

The following narrative was written by George Anson Woodruff (b: October 27, 1832, d: March 1, 1912) when he was aged 65 and refers to the battle of Brice’s Cross Roads, also known as Tishomingo Creek, a Union loss. The original document was six full pages written in long hand by George. At the time of the Civil War, George was living in Otto, near Kankakee, Illinois and enlisted as a Sergeant in Company H of the 113th Illinois Infantry on August 7, 1862. He was promoted to Full Lieutenant 2nd Class on June 12, 1865 and was mustered out on June 20, 1865 in Memphis, TN

Transcribed 26-December-2002 by Randy Morford

My experience after the attack June 10th to 14 inclusive – How much can be crowded into 5 days under some circumstances. I will tell a little herewith. This to be preserved for my family.

Kankakee, Ill. Jun 10th 1897

This the 33rd anniversary of an extremely hard days service which cannot be forgotten because of the ever present reminder – Our morning was occupied as usual when upon the march, breakfast of hardtack, perhaps bacon & coffee – started at 8 a.m. About the noon hour we received orders to double quick and were hurried along for three hours through the sand hills – partly covered with small trees and a very hot sun in the state of Mississippi – we were rushed forward into what proved to be a very appropriate place. By a burying ground and many found their last resting place therein – we found the enemy commanded by Genl’s Forrest and Chalmers waiting to receive us. They were in our front and on both flanks we done our best but was compelled to fall back in doing so we found many who had fallen by the way. Overcome by the exertion and excessive heat. Some dead, others dying, some reviving. The wagon train of 200 wagons was forwarded right down to us where it could not be gotten away and every wagon loaded with rations and ammunition was lost. The horse and mules were cut loose and had gone before I got there otherwise I should have used one for my own convenience. At about 7 p.m. our General Sturgis who was entrusted with this little army gave the order as he rode to the rear which was 28 miles in our rear. We were entirely without rations and worn out but we would try our best to make it. In passing to the rear we were protected somewhat by a regiment of Colored Troops who had been the train guards that day. They held the Rebels in check admirably we thought. The great proportion of our army destroyed their guns but carried their cartridges for the rest of those who were able to carry their guns for future service. Some of us got to Ripley. Many others did not but their bones were bleached along the route and others in Andersonville. There was some pretty heavy skirmishing on the morning of the 11th as we arrived at Ripley and many of the houses that contained nothing but women sent many hot shot into our ranks. But they suffered for it soon after – by the loss of their homes. We were soon organized into commands and took different routes back for Memphis. We were bout 1000 strong with about 100 guns and commanded by Colonel Wilcox (or Wilder) of the 9th Minn. Infty. A grand little man. He was killed in about one month after at Tupelo – We all mourn his death and the country a great loss. In our retreat we would get strung out and the head of column would be haled and close up forward. We continued until about eleven o’clock at night when on account of business in our rear. Started on the 12th went along very slowly by the most obscure route known until about 11 o’clock that night when we laid down in the road until 3 o’clock a.m. the 13th (unknown) when we started and plodded along the best that we could and were harassed by some small squads of Rebels scouts all along that day. About 4 p.m. we were filling our canteens at a well about 10 rods from Wolf River bottoms when about 25 rebel Cavalry came in sight of us and they were about one half mile back. We left there to get down into the bottoms before they came up. A Colored Srgt. Gave the command and about 15 of his men dropped upon the ground. He told them to hold their fire until he gave the command. Then each man kill a rebel or expect to be killed himself. They rode until about 4 rods away when the received a surprise that they little expected. I saw several fall. The others went back. We didn’t spend anytime in seeing the extent of the loss to them but I think that the percent of loss was heavy. By the way, I have always had a very kind feeling towards the Colored Soldier since that Pick Nick as today’s saints call them. May the merciful God forgive them. They know not what they say. However that eve’g we got a good supply of water and got some rest but nothing to eat since the morning of the 10th before the battle. The 13th after making about 120 miles retreat in four days and nights of suffering and in no way certain whether going to friends or the enemy. We were surprised by the approach of train of flat cars and the route being patrolled by the 7th Kansas Cavalry out searching for Union Soldiers. The found us just in time. As we were loading upon the cars there was a Rebel force of about a Regiment came in view and would have had no difficulty in capturing us but the Kansas jayhawkers were looking for just such a chance. The rushed for the rebels who had business in the rear, as that was different game from what they (the rebs) were looking for. That train of cars, well I can’t do it justice, but the Pullmans have never put out a train that would compare with this one that took us into Memphis. Nothing but admiration. It will never be surpassed on its conveniences and not a single complaint or suggestion mat that it could be improved upon.

The distance that we marched the last day was very hard upon me, as I had become so lame in my right hip that I could not advance my right foot forward of my left foot. It never recovered fully and since 1890 I have suffered very much with it. But for all of that we accomplished what we went for. Now let the coming generations preserve it. I must mention one case a member of Co. D. 113th Ill Infty. was shot in the mouth carried away a part of his jaw. He was put upon a horse and came through alive with maggots in the wound. He was taken to the Hospital and I supposed he had died, until about twenty years after when I met him. I said to him Frazee is this you and how come you alive. He said the he supposed the good Lord kept him for some propose. His name is Frazee and he lived near Onarga Ill.

I could mention many strange incidents, say, say would you believe a person would sleep while moving along in such a time. I have done it. We returned to our camp and surprised our comrades as word had been reported and sent north to my wife that I was one of the dead. Pickled Pigs feet was the first taste of food on the evening of the 14th since the morning of the 10th but drank any kind of water that we came to.

The names of members of Co. H 113th Ill. Vol Infty who went out upon this expedition and what became of them.

Peter D. Sutton obtained a horse and got to Memphis on the 11th belonged to the medical staff.

Smith Sutton (same as above)

Edward Rogers Captured boarded at Andersonville until foll…

Joseph Harris Captured (same as above) escaped in winter

Lorenz Fuber Captured boarded at Andersonville. Died Apr. 1865 at KKK Parole

John Straney Captured Died at Andersonville

Amos Johnson Captured (same as above)

Green Wilson Captured (same as above)

Frank Roth(?) Died at Ripley Miss.

Thomas Gallagher Returned on 14th Died at Chebanse 1896

Michael Barnes Returned on 14th Died at Chebanse 1868

Geo A. Woodruff Returned on 14th

General Sturgis was tried by Court Martial censured most severely. Being a West Pointer and a Regular was excused for being Drunk and loosing to the Union cause about 1000 men that the government has be paying pensions for these many years but it has received a great revenue said enemy (whiskey)


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