Source: NMHS Newsletter, May 1988
First Reunion of
the 47th Indiana Volunteers A GRAND SUCCESS
Published in The Journal, September 27, 1883
History of the
The first reunion of the 47th regiment took place at North Manchester Sept. 25 and 26. The day opened auspiciously for the success of the meeting. Many members of that command, residing here, felt that they would like very much to meet again as many of their comrades in the eventful scenes of the late war as was possible, and in consulting with one and another they concluded to invite the boys of their regiment to meet here and again renew their recollection of the many incidents of their army life. Those members mentioned decided on having the reunion last spring, and the officers of the organization have been almost unceasing in their efforts to make the meeting a success. Every member whose name and address could be found was invited and notified of the coming reunion. Thus by early and constant toil and advertising this first reunion of the 47th Indiana Volunteers was made a grand success.
Tuesday morning opened rather cloudy, but it did not prevent the old war scarred veterans from joining together and enjoying themselves. Promptly at six o’clock the first gun of the customary National salute was fired. The men in charge of getting up this meeting of the old soldiers had everything arranged. Some twenty tents were procured and also a canon. The early morning was occupied by our citizens in arranging their displays of flags and bunting. The National colors fluttered from all doors and windows on Main street. Many private houses were tastefully draped in red, white and blue. Mottoes, banners and flags met the eye from all points. A large delegation arrived from Huntington and other points over the C. & A. [railroad] in the morning, and “old soldiers” and other persons began coming in early in the morning. The band came out in their uniforms and marched to the depot, where they met a large delegation from the south, headed by the Wabash martial band. A procession was formed and the crowd marched to the grounds in Harter’s grove, just at the north edge of the city. The procession was headed by B. F. Clemans, Esq. on horseback, as marshal of the day. Next the band followed by all of the regiment then present, marched on Main to Locust [Front], north to Third, west on Third to Market street: thence north to camp in the grove, a most beautiful park.
On arriving at the grove the audience was called to order, and the exercises were opened with prayer by Rev. Samuel Sawyer, of Indianapolis, chaplain of the 47th during the war. The invocation was followed by an eloquent and enthusiastic address of welcome by Rev. H. Wells, of this place. No less eloquent was the response of Hon. W. R. Myers, Secretary of State, Captain of Company G. of the 47th. He responded in behalf of the members of the regiment, and his words were heartily endorsed by all members present. These speeches and address were interspersed with music by the band. After the response by Mr. Myers the meeting was adjourned till after dinner. The “old soldiers” were invited to partake of the “old army” repeat consisting of hardtack, sow-belly and bean soup. About 200 of the “boys” ate bountifully of the dinner, and pronounced the cooking of Jake Jacobs equal to that they were accustomed to while in the service of their country. After dinner the roll was called by Capt. J. R. Wallace. Some 200 answered ”here.” Of the absent ones, some sent regrets, some were not notified, perhaps, of the meeting, while others had joined the silent, but victorious army, across the dark river, and are still “marching on” to glory. We append a list as taken from the roster. Following the roll call were addresses by Chaplain Sawyer, Capt. W. R. Myers, Capt. Wintrode and others giving reminiscences of army life. Their little talks were very entertaining and were very highly appreciated by “the boys.” Some time was taken up by these anecdotes. The dress parade was held immediately after roll call, instead of after the addresses of the members. There were members present representing each company and an almost equal number of States in the Union. Only one man of Company A. was present. That man was B. P. Steele, of Liberty Mills. In the evening Mr. Hamilton tendered the use of the opera house to the veterans. They then made a permanent organization for the purpose of holding annual reunions hereafter. Maj. Shearer, of Huntington, was elected president for the ensuing year, and that place was selected to hold the next meeting at. The time is left to the convenience of the people of that place.
Wednesday forenoon was taken up in a general hand shaking by the veterans until 11 o’clock, when they fell in ranks, headed by the martial band, and paraded through the principal streets of town. The afternoon was occupied by speeches by Rev. Chase, of Wabash, Lieut. Dane, of Illinois, Hon. G. W. Steele, M. C. of Marion, Capt. J. R. Wallace, of this place, Rev. E. D. Smith, of this place and others. The meeting adjourned with singing the doxology and pronouncing the benediction.
The next reunion will be held at Huntington.
It is estimated that about 2,500 people were in the city each day.
Freeman Church attended the reunion of his regiment yesterday.
It was a rare treat to hear the boys relate some of the incidents of their army life.
Spleer, the sattler, was not here, but the stand was run, and his place filled by Sol. Argerbright.
The canon was an object of much interest to the small boys. They watched the gunners every movement with inquiring eyes.
About fifty members of the 47th came in a body yesterday over the C. & A. to attend the reunion, from Huntington and other points.
Capt. T. I. Siling, of Company D. 47th Ind. Vol. Inf., now a resident of Rockville, Kansas, arrived in the city last week to attend the reunion.
The speakers stand was decorated with flags and flowers, and the pictures of Washington, Lincoln, Grant, Morton and Garfield adorned its front.
The Wabash Drum Corps furnished some good old war music, and did lots of violent sheep-skin pounding. They received many compliments from the veterans.
Lieutenant Dane, of the 47th regiment, now a resident in Southern Illinois, and in bad health, attended the reunion. His desire to meet again his comrades in arms, prompted him to undergo the fatigue of a trip here.
To say that the reunion was a success is to put it very mildly. At no time that we can recall has N. Manchester held, at one time, so many middle aged men, that seemed to be so happy and glad that they had come. Long live the boys of the 47th.
Hon. W. R. Myers, Secretary of State, Captain of Company G. 47th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, arrived Tuesday morning to attend the reunion. He is just returned from a trip through the West. The Captain has a hearty greeting for each of his comrades.
The usual number of “knocking machines” and catching-penny fakers were on the corners during the reunion this week. The man that ate cotton and spit fire was there in all his glory, but the man that sold “soap” was conspicuously absent.
The 47th regiment of Indiana Volunteers was organized at Camp Sullivan, Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 1861; ordered to Kentucky in department of Gen. Buell, December 13, 1861; marched from Louisville to Bardstown; thence over Muldrangs Hill to Camp Wickliffe for military instructions under Gen. Nelson; brigaded with 8th Kentucky, 4th Indiana, 41st Ohio, under Col. Hazen. During the storming of Ft. Donelson ordered to march to the support of Gen Grant. After the surrender of Ft. Donelson, with Col. Slack commanding 46th , 34th and 47th Ind. Regiments, February 20, 1862, transferred to the department of Gen. Pope; reached Commerce, Miss., Feb. 23, and marched by the way of Benton and Sykestown to New Madrid, March 14. The 47th, with the 34th Ind., marched at 3 o’clock a.m. with orders to advance the rifle pits 300 yards in the face of the enemy’s fire and storm New Madrid. The Rebels apprehending an attack had fled. Gun boats appearing in sight, both up and down the river, Col. Slack marched a part of his command into the fort. By the cheerful help of his men, the canon, drawn by hand through the mud for one half mile, was mounted and the river effectually blockcaded in 36 minutes, March the 18. The regiment had an engagement with seven gunboats at Riddles Point, Mo. with a single canon and their long range rifles. They disabled three of the boats and the rest withdrew to Tiptonville, Tennessee, leaving them in quiet possession of the field. The men behaved most gallantly during the terrible contests. Island number 10 having been abandoned by the enemy, the 47th was assigned to take care of Tiptonville and its approaches, where it remained doing important service from the middle of April to the 12th of May, 1862. May the 12th they embarked for Memphis. They were the first union regiment that marched through the city of Memphis. Here performed provost duty until ordered, under Gen. Hovey to Helena, Ark., at command of Gen. Washburn and acted as provost guard until materially weakened by sickness and death; accompanied the White river expedition, capturing a few rebels at Duvalls Bluff and St. Charles, Feb. 8, 1863, they were ordered through Yazoo Pass, proceeding to Fort Pemberton, in support of the gunboats, where they witnessed the burning of the cotton boat parallel. April 12 returned to Helena, and the same day set out for Vicksburg, under command of Gen. Hovey; landed at Millikens Bend, April the 15, and 16 marched to Perkins Plantation and embarked on boat for hard times opposite Grand gulf to storm the works, waiting for the gun boats to silence the battering. They at length marched to a place opposite and crossed over to Bruinsburg, witnessing a brilliant gun boat fight at Grand gulf; April 30 marched all night to Fort Gibson; and May first, without any rations, fought till sundown losing 47 men, in killed and wounded; entered Fort Gibson, May 2, and the next day marched and skirmished with the enemy, opposite Edwards Station; May 6, went to Rockey Springs and on May 8 were reviewed by Major General Grant; May 14, through a terrible rain storm, and mud in places knee deep, they marched to Raymond; thence to Bolton Station, they were double quick skirmishing with rebel cavalry and bivouacking in line of battle. Next morning they marched to Champions Hill where their division met the enemy, and in that terrible battle the regiment lost, in killed and wounded, 143 men. The next day they skirmished with the rebel cavalry, and on the 18 marched back to Edwards Station, and on the 19 to Black River, skirmishing daily with the enemy; on the 23rd reached Vicksburg to take a part in the siege. Few casualties occurred during the siege; the place surrendered July 4 and 5, 1863. The regiment, with Gen Sherman’s command, marched in pursuit of Gen. Johnson; overtook the enemy at Edwards depot, and drove them to Jackson, which place was invested on the 12, and stormed the same day. Intrenchments requiring much labor were thrown up, and on the 17th entered the city. The regiment returned to Vicksburg, July 23, having been under fire and within hearing of canon, and the shock of battle for 81 days; April 2, embarked on boat for Natchez, and on the eleventh arrived at Carrolton; August 22, the troops were reviewed by Major Gen. Grant; were ordered to Brashear City, where they remained for several days; Sept. 27 were reviewed by Gen. Ord; next day crossed Bernie Bay; Oct. 4, reached Franklin driving Dick Taylor’s forces before them; Oct. 10, marched 25 miles to Vermillion bayou, and reached Oppolusas, Oct. 23; returned soon after to Grand Cateau, and engaged and repulsed the enemy, Nov. 17; while encamped at New Ibera had two teams and eleven men captured by the enemy. At this place the regiment re-enlisted as veterans, and arrived at New Orleans, Dec. 21; were ordered Jan. 21, 1864 to report at New Orleans.
The regiment was ordered from New Orleans to Alexandria to the relief of Banks, and assisted in building the dam to relieve the steamboats and gunboats. The return march was a hard one; for ten days the command was marched day and night, till they reached Morganza Bend. There they took boats to New Orleans and Carrolton, where the regiment went into camp, from there to New Orleans. Took cars to Thibedeaux; thence back to the river at New Orleans, spending a week or more there, from there to Morganza Bend. From this point the regiment made an expedition on the Atchaffalaya Bayou, where they were ambushed and fired into on a night march, with some loss. The following day they had a heavy skirmish, and returned to camp. From this point an expedition of three or four days was made down the river to a point near Baton Rouge, and across the country, retiring after a skirmish, and the next point was the mouth of the White river, and from there to Duvall’s Bluff, and back without disembanking, and again went into camp. Here the troops were reviewed by Gen Nelson. Winter quarters were built here, but soon got marching orders. The next stop was at St. Charles, Ark., where they again built winter quarters. Ground their corn at a mule mill in the country; went almost daily to the relief of the cavalry, who encountered Morgan’s guerrillas; from here to Duvall’s Bluff by boats, and again built winter quarters, only to leave them ere they were completed, for Little Rock, by rail, where they went into comfortable quarters. From this point a detachment of 100 men, under command of Capt. C. B. Rager, were dispatched to Fort Smith, with a supply of boat in charge; thence to Memphis, via Duvall’s Bluff, and the mouth of White River. From this point another raid was made through the country in which there was some sharp skirmishing. At this point the company’s officers, except two, were mustered out by general order from the war departments. Again the regiment embarked for New Orleans, and from there to Kennerville, fourteen miles up the river. Here they embarked aboard the Peabody, a gulf steamer, for Demphine Island, where they arrived after a two days cruise, in which they encountered a terrific storm, in which most of their trains, stoves and camp equipage was lost. From here the 13th Army Corp was reorganized for the Mobile campaign. Everything being in readiness they here transported to the mainland at Fort Gaines, and took up their line of march across the pine flats for Mobile. After several days hard marching and building corduroy bridges, pulling wagons and artillery from the treacherous quick islands, they arrived in front of the old Spanish Fort by the same name. Here the regiment took part in the siege for fifteen days, advancing the rifle-pits under cover of the night. On the sixteenth day the regiment was ordered out, and took up their line of march across the country to meet Gen. A. J. Smith, who had in charge a supply train for Ft. Sumpter. This took them into the works at Sumpter. The evening of the terrible bombardment of Fort Spanish, preparatory to storming the works, the regiment and division were ordered to that place as reinforcements, but before their arrival the works had surrendered and the order countermanded. They about faced and marched, each arriving in camp at daybreak, after an all night march. Blakely was stormed that evening. From here they marched down the bay to our landing, where they, together with a large portion of the army, embarked on steamers and crossed the Bay, effected a landing. The rebels having evacuated the city, the mayor came down and surrendered the city. The 47th marched inside the second tier of works and went into camp, but received marching orders a few minutes later, marched through the city, and took up their quarters in the Mobile and Ohio railroad depot. From here they were transferred to a cotton warehouse, where kind providence spared them from total destruction. They were ordered to Spring Hill late in the evening, by which they escaped the terrible disaster of the explosion of the rebel magazine, in which there were thirty-five tons of powder, prostrating all the buildings in the vicinity, among which was the 47th’s late quarters, with great destruction of life. From this place they embarked aboard a steamer and went around via Lake Ponchatrain to New Orleans, and from there via the Mississippi and Red River to Shreveport, from which point they were ordered to Baton Rouge to muster out.
Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1988
Dr. Bunker Responds
The article, “A Grand Success,” an account of the first reunion of the 47th Indiana Volunteers published in the May 1988 issue of The Newsletter, brought several questions to the minds of your editors and so we turned to our noted historian, Dr. L. Z. Bunker, for some answers.
On page nine of that issue and in many other instances, we have seen Front Street in N. Manchester referred to as Locust Street. On the original plat of the town, the street is named Locust. Although she didn’t know why the name was changed to Front Street, Dr. Bunker did offer this information. “Black locust trees grew in profusion along Main Street and there are still some back of the Lutheran Church and other river bank areas. There were still some of these about 1915 or so. Doubtless they extended to what is now Front Street. We will try to look at some old records in hope of finding where this change was made.”
On page eleven referring to Capt. T. I. Siling, Dr. Bunker writes, “It is interesting to hear of Tighlman I. Sililng in Rockville, Kansas, after the war. At present, Rand McNally lists a Rossville, but no Rockville. Siling and his brother are listed in Furniture Makers in Indiana, 1854 as being in South Whitley, coming from Maryland. He later came here and built the Main Street Hotel and the 1858 the house on Second and Front Streets (the John Eckert home). He married the sister of George Lawrence. The family left here after he enlisted and there was no record of them. I am surprised to see Siling listed as Captain. One story said after re-enlistment he became a Colonel.”
On the same page eleven, the explanation of three phrases is as follows: “The knocking machines were small boxes carrying an electric charge when activated and in contact with hands, feet, etc. It was used to stimulate tissue deteriorated by strokes, old wounds and contractions from fractures. They were in use for many years to 1900 or later, but it is doubted they did any good.”
“Catch penny fakers sounds out of Shakespeare---hawkers selling cheap remedies for a small sum. Many veterans had painful wounds that caused them many miseries---amputation stumps, retained shrapnel and mini balls, causing osteomyelitis, poorly set fractures, etc., making them prey to swindlers offering medical help.”
“The reference to soap was interesting! Did we have hippies in those days?”
On page seventeen, the treacherous quick islands, is probably referring to quick sand, Dr. Bunker thinks. “Much of the South over which the 47th fought was wet and boggy, rural areas not drained or ditched. I will be on the lookout for this reference, but I think this is the correct answer.”
If others of you have more information, we would be very glad to hear from you.
Source: North Manchester Journal, May 10, 1883
At a meeting of the resident ex-veterans of the 47th Regiment Ind. Vol's., at North Manchester, Ind., April 25th, 1883, for the purpose of making arrangements for a re-union of the ex-soldiers of said Regiment, Capt. C.B. Rager was chosen chairman, and B.F. Clemans, secretary.
On motion of Capt. J.R. Wallace, the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That there be a Re-union of the ex-members of the 47th Regiment of Ind. Vol's., to be held at North Manchester, Wabash county, on the 25th and 26th days of September, 1883.
On motion, the following organization was effected:
Capt. C.B. Rager, President.
Capt. W.M. Henley, Vice President.
B.F. Clemans, Secretary.
Dan'l Strauss, Treasurer.
Capt. J.R. Wallace, Cor. Secretary.
J.A. Clevinger, Quartermaster.
Rev. Samuel Sawyer, Chaplain.
Executive Committee--Lieutenant D. Frame, J.H. Ballinger,
J.J. Martin, Lieut. J.M. Cook, Samuel Hamilton.
Finance Committee--Capt. E.M. Rager, Lieut. J.B. Shuler, Frank Shilt.
Committee on Speakers--To consist of the President and Secretaries.
On motion it is ordered that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the North Manchester JOURNAL, and other newspapers of Wabash county, and that the newspapers in the following counties be requested to publish the same, viz: Huntington, Adams, Jay, Madison, Wells, Tipton, Kosciusko, Grant, and Miami.
On motion the meeting adjourned to meet on call of the
Capt. C.B. RAGER, Ch'n.
B.F. CLEMANS, Secretary.