Civil War Veteran
This is the story of my grandfather, Captain Jerome Bonaparte Adams, as copied by granddaughter, Eva Adams Atkins. Enlisted at Buena Vista, Portage County, Wisconsin, on October 10, 1861, in Company A, 16th Division Wisconsin. He began camp duty at Berlin Wisconsin and after three weeks was transferred to Madison, Wisconsin. His company remained at Madison until March 1862 when they were ordered to St. Louis.
The first active engagement of his regiment was at Pittsburg Landing where their Captain Sax was killed in the first fire. Many skirmishes followed, the most important one being at Atlanta.
Before this engagement Mr. Adams had re-enlisted as a Veteran to serve for three years. This enlistment took place at Redbone Church, Mississippi, Dec. 11, 1863 (Bethel Redbone Methodist Church Warren Co., Miss. Built 1854 Used by the Federals at one time during the Civil War.). The regiment made camp at Lake Providence, Louisiana for 5 months and then transferred to Vicksburg where Mr. Adams was on guard detail. After a thirty day furlough with his parents he rejoined his regiment at Madison and proceeded to Cairo. Illinois and immediately left for Atlanta, Georgia. Here they occupied a prominent position in the front ranks on Kennesaw Heights. Mr. Adams was promoted to Corporal at Vicksburg and at Atlanta he received his Sergeant rank. During the battle of Atlanta he served as color guard of his regiment. His regiment charged through a cornfield upon the Rebels who were stationed there and captured their works with loss of many men. Sgt. Adams received a bayonet wound in the left arm and was ordered to the rear flanks, but at his request was allowed to remain with the Colors at the head of his troop.
From Atlanta Sgt. Adams’ troop accompanied General Sherman on the memorable march to the sea, after which they participated in the Grand Review at Washington D.C. He received his Honorable Discharge from duty at Louisville Kentucky, July 20, 1865. He returned to his home in Buena Vista, Portage County.
He married and settled on a land grant after establishing a soldier’s claim to land in Jim River Valley, North Dakota. He retained his claim long enough to receive his patent grant and then returned to his Buena Vista farm which remained in the family until November of 1949. A son, Bryon, his wife and seven children resided at the home after the death of Mr. Adams’ wife. I was the youngest daughter. The farm was managed by Victor, the only son of Bryon Adams. Victor’s death in 1949 at age of 38 years brought about the sale of the farm in the fall of 1949 by the daughters of the family.
Mr. Adams was a staunch Republican and a strong backer of the temperance principles. He contributed his soldier’s pay to support his parents and during the Battle of Atlanta, he received word of his father’s death.
Mr. Adams had little education beyond his tenth birthday, walking 3 miles to attend a rural school.
The prize possession of Captain Adams’ Civil War, consisted of diaries, bayonet, musket, sword, powder horn and powder cask remain in the family. His honorable discharge has been framed. Captain Jerome Adams died in 1920 and is buried in the Buena Vista Cemetery at Liberty Corners, Portage County.
From Jerome Adams’ Civil War DiaryJanuary 1865
Jan. 1, 1865 - Cold here in sunny south.
Jan. 3 - Eve drew 3 days rations today and half of our clothing rations. Looks like we move again.
Wed. Jan. 4 - Orders to pack and be ready to march and we started at 3 o’clock. Marched to the landing, four miles from Savannah, a place called Thunderbolt Bay. Rebs had a fort that kept our fleet from running up Hansen Sound. Here we camped for the night.
Thurs. Jan. 5 - We packed and boarded boat. We landed at Beaufort, S. C. 6:00 PM this eve. We marched 2 miles out of town to camp for the night. This is just for the night.
Fri. 6 - Moved 3 miles – camping in a cotton field on Tartray Island, land on this isle is owned by people loyal to our government.
Sun. 8 - Had inspection. Did not come off to well for the officers. We drew soft bread for the first time since we left Kennesaw Pts. (Had always had dry biscuits.)
Mon. 9 - I paid 50 cents for 12 herring for supper. Today has been dark and cloudy. Wed. 11 Went into Beaufort today. I bought a portfolio for $1.00, $1.50 for a frying pan, $1.00 for a pocket book.
Fri. 13 - We packed and left at 3 o’clock p.m. Marched 6 miles, camping in a cornfield, one mile from Port Royal Ferry. Sat. 14 Crossed ferry at 6 p.m. on pontoon, our regiment was in the rear of Brigade so we had no skirmishing to do. Captain Chandler was killed. He was 1st Brigade Picket officer. We marched 16 miles.
Fri. 21 - Orders to march today. Orders to search down railroad tracks. We tore up, burned the ties and bent the rails of 3 miles of track.
Sat. Feb. 1 - The Old Reb house was burned last night. It was unknown who set the fire.
Thurs. 9 - Camped near Augusta and Branchville R.R. 7th and 4th Division have burned the rails as far as we can see. The Rebs shelled them until the Division hurried them with fire. They left their caissons and run.
Sun. 12 - Crossed the swamp in mud and water 2 feet deep for 30 rods. Marched all day, destroying 8 miles of track. Good days work and not a man hurt. Getting plenty of forage this side of the river.
Fri. 17 - Packed our tents and moved at 12 o’clock p.m. Crossed Broad River after dark and into the edge of Columbia.
Sun. 26 - Built 1 ½ miles corduroy road to cross swamp. Caught up to 1st and 4th Division.
Tues. 28 - The Division have moved on ahead. Talk is that the Rebs are out here 4 miles fortified waiting for us to come up. Orders to wait here until 15 Corps company arrives.
Thurs. 30 - Went out foraging today. Got bacon, potatoes and chicken. Rebel shooting within 5 rods of camp today. He belonged to Brown’s Battalion of the first G.C. Militia. Name was James Miller. Stole these.
Sat. March 1 - Crossed Tybie River to other side. Mud over top of our shoes. Our march is on the Bennettsville road, country much better on this of the river. Brought in flour, meal and pork. This isa rick part of South Carolina.
Tues. 7 - Marched on Fayetteville Road today. Knapsack inspection, they thought we has gotten some silk dresses, but didn’t find anything. Peach and plum trees budding to bloom here in South Carolina.
Thurs. 9 - Marching beside the train. Have to wait for the train to get out of the mud. Marched 14 miles in rain and still raining.
Sat. 11 - Lost 9 or 10 men in Skirmish at Fayetteville. The Rebels burned 4 transport and a gunboat that they couldn’t get away.
Mon. 13 - Marched down to Cape, our pontoon broke down, waited until it was fixed, went to camp, two miles from river. Been 4 days without communications. A number of boys are barefoot and have to wear butternut pants. Begin to look like the Johnnies.
Wed. 15 - Carried rails to make corduroys today. Stop to lift wagons out of mud and then march again, all day – stopped and baked a few corn ears – but told to march. Some sleepy you bet!
Thurs. 17 - Marched 20 miles without sleep.
Sat. 18 - Drew one day rations hard tack.
Sun. 19 - Saw some of the 13th Cavalry today just in from Wilmington.
Mon. 20 - Orders to march. I was rear guard and had to keep teams out of mud – so got behind the command. Crossed Bentonville and Mill Creek.
Tues. 21 - Skirmishing heavy – raining hard. This battle is called Bentonville or Mill Creek. Pretty hard fighting. They buried 700 and captured 1700. good days work.
Wed. 22 - Johnnies evacuated their works last night. Can hear musketry in distance.
Fri. 24 - We marched at 9 o’clock this morning, crossed the Ponse River, 3 miles from Goldshora. We marched into town and Gen. Sherman sat on his horse and watched us. He saw some ragged, barefooted men. This is the 54 day on this campaign and we have drawn 10 days rations of hard bread.
Mon. 27 - Moving camp today. Moved 2 ½ miles into cornfield, good camp plenty of room and water. New recruits arrived to our Regiment today.
Thur. 30 - Raining and I have to go on picket. A pleasant thing in the rain. Fri. 31 Cleared off today, just relieved of picket duty, bathed in creek and put on my new clothes. Feel better.
Apr. 1 - Col. Fairchild takes command of Regiment today. Battalion Drill today, first since leaving Atlanta. Found nothing in our knapsack inspection.
Sun. Apr. 2 - Rumors that Potomac Army is getting whipped.
Mon. 3 - A pleasant morning wind blows cool and refreshing – all quiet in this part of country.
Thurs. 6 - Boys all well. I went over to 32nd today. Had good news from Gen. Grant today. He was in Richmond, had captured 25,000 prisoners and entire garrison of Petersburg had captured 500 pieces of artillery and was following up there. Great cheering in camp when we heard news.
Fri. 7 - A very pleasant spring morning. Everything looks gay. Flowers in bloom and birds singing. Makes me think of old times at home.
Sat. 8 - Grand review today. Mon. 10 15th, 17th, 18th, 20th regiments marching on towards Raleigh. 15 miles today.
Tues. 11 - 10 miles march today, 35 miles from Raleigh. Citizens say the Rebs are there and fortified.
Wed. 12 - Orders to march but got good news. Lee has surrendered his entire army at the Appomattox Court House. We marched one mile, we had to corduroy the swamp all the way before we could get our train through.
Fri. 14 - We marched through Raleigh about 4 o’clock.
Sat. 15 - Rumored that Johnson has surrendered his army. Our rations run out today. We had brought 7 days rations and 60 rounds of cartridges – We drew 1 day’s rations for two days.
Tues. 18 - Cars (railroad cars?) pop by here with Gen. Sherman and staff every day taking him out to the front where Johnson has surrendered his entire force. Maybe we will soon be homeward bound, I am in hopes. There was a great many sorrowful looking faces when we got news of Lincoln’s death.
Wed. 19 - We moved camp today about 2 miles nearer Raleigh and a nicer camp. Talk is we will stay here until we start for home which I hope will be soon.
Thurs. 20 - Report today the whole southern Confederacy has surrendered and that this Army has got to march to Harper’s Ferry which is 350 miles. Only short march on such an occasion. We are going home!
Fri. 21 - General talk is that we will get home soon. We’ve cleaned our camp. Looks nice. Shaded our tents by setting pine trees out by each corner.
Mon. 24 - Gen. Sherman and Gen. Grant reviewed the 17th Regiment today. I was detailed to take charge of 6 men to go down town and guard baggage of 3rd Division.
Thurs. 27 - The corps has come back in to camp and expect to start homeward in a few days.
Fri. 28 - We leave tomorrow morning.
Sat. 28 - Broke camp at 7 a.m. another campaign which will be more pleasant than the ones here-to-fore.
Friday May 5 - Crossed Roanoke River at Robinson’s Ferry.
Sat. 6 - Struck Plank Road at 9 a.m. and marched 22 miles. Tired. Our cook didn’t come up with our coffee kettles so had to make our own coffee.
Sun. 7 - Camped inside the Reb works six miles from Petersburg.
Wed. 10 - Laying in camp today 1 ½ miles from Manchester, Richmond is just across the river.
Fri. 12 - Crossed the Potomac and marched theough the streets of Richmond and struck out on Turnpike to Alexandria.
Thurs. 16 - Camped at Fredericksburg. Thurs. 25 Gov. Lewis came to see us today. He says that he will send us home at the earliest opportunity. We also had a speech from Lucius Fairchild. We gave them 3 cheers.
Wed. 31 - Went down to Washington today, went through the capital and Patent Office. I saw all the things of Gen. Washington’s, his uniform, his mess kit, knife, forks etc.
June 6 - Got back pay on our Veterans furlough today $728 apiece.
June 11 - Camped in Berkshire Hills tonite.
Fri. 16 - Boys are down in the mouth to think they are not getting their discharge as quickly as expected.
Sat. 17 - Went to Louisville today. Saw lots of homely women and girls. Bought a jack knife, pocket album and a few notions.
Mon. 3 - Bought a pair of boots in Louisville today. Paid $8.50 for them.
This was the last important data written before his arrival back in Portage County.