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Military Monday: James Edward Murrell, Illinois 11th, Co. I

James E. Murrell, Military Pension Index Card

Murrell Family, Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

We last left James Edward Murrell in 1860. In June he was in Warren County, Illinois, on the family farm. By 7 September of that year, he was listed in the Wright County, Missouri US Federal Census, along with his older brother, William Anderson Murrell; both were listed as farm laborers. Traveling groups of farm laborers went from town to town during the harvest months back then (similar to today’s migrant workers, plus there are harvesting companies that migrate through the midwest in the fall along with their huge combines today), and groups would even go out of state. Since Wright County was about 350 miles from their family home in Illinois, the boys probably thought the trip would be their great adventure.

Soon, however, another ‘adventure’ would eclipse anything they had ever experienced, and anything they could have imagined.

The next year, 1861, William answered the call of President Abraham Lincoln and that of his country, and he enlisted in the Union Army. (See previous posts for more information about his service.) Likely the two young men had gone back to Illinois by then, as William enlisted in the 83rd Illinois, Co. H. (Whole counties would send their young men together to fight in this war, and sometimes only a few would return.) We are not sure where James was in 1861, although newspaper articles for Warren County might give us some details if we could find them.

James was just about 18 then, and may have stayed at home, helping his father on the family farm. The Civil War dragged on longer than either side had ever anticipated, and the losses on both sides were staggering. The family would have been very worried about William still serving in the Civil War, too.

The year 1865 began with our country still divided and at war. Congress approved the 13th Amendment (to abolish slavery forever in our country) on 31 January 1865, sending this change to our Constitution to the states for ratification. Just three days later, President Lincoln met with the Confederate Vice President, Alexander Stephens, with brokering peace the objective. The meeting failed to find a compromise, however, and the war continued. The Union had won significant victories, and the Confederate forces were quite outnumbered by that point– they only held two major areas of the south. The end was getting near.

On 4 March, President Lincoln was inaugurated for a second term. He was tired. Our nation was tired. But Lincoln, excellent and inspiring orator that he was, said,

“With malice toward none; with charity for all…let us strive on to finish the work we are in…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Hearing these words (via telegraph and newspapers) may have been the inspiration for 22-year-old James Edward Murrell to enlist in the Illinois Cavalry just seven days later (11 March). He joined Regiment 11, Company I in Monmouth, Illinois, as a private, and probably got on a train headed south to join the whole regiment. The war was coming to a close, and the next month, Gen. Robert E. surrendered. Amid the Union celebrations, the President was shot just five days later at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Lincoln died the next morning.

The regiment James joined had mustered in originally in 1861, and some units had seen a few of the war’s most important, toughest, and/or most brutal battles and conditions, including Corinth, Vicksburg, and marching with Gen. Sherman through Mississippi. Most of the Regiment’s time had been spent on the ‘Western’ front, in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Many historians feel that the war was really won at this front, since the army that controlled this area and the mighty Mississippi River also controlled supplies, transportation, and troop movements into and out of the South.

From January of 1865 until September, the 11th Regiment had duty on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, between Memphis and Grand Junction, Tennessee. Their headquarters were in LaGrange, Tennessee, and that likely was where James arrived to meet his unit. It was of utmost importance for the Union to maintain control of those local assets and areas. James, as a private, probably served as a guard and would have patrolled the rails, keeping them safe from sabotage by rebels and guerrillas. Skirmishes may have occurred with rebels on any day, and blue and gray soldiers would have taunted each other across a creek or open field, or taken a potshot just for effect. The regiment completed an expedition to Brownsville, Mississippi from Memphis on 23-26 April 1865.  It will take deeper research to determine more about James’ unit while he was a part of it, so that we can know exactly what actions he was involved in, and when- his full pension application may have more details.

In May of 1865, the Union was reunited after the remaining Confederate forces surrendered. Moving Union troops and supplies back to their home states became the goal of the armies, and the railways that were still in service were crucial to this task, as were the steamships on the rivers. The transition from war and slavery was a difficult one for the South, and the Union Army was used to keep order at times, though again, we do not know if James E. Murrell was a part of that. His unit was mustered out on 30 September 1865, from Memphis, Tennessee. The above pension index card states that James was discharged by “s.o. 21,” probably ‘Special Order 21’ though we have been unable to determine what that was.

The Illinois 11th headed to Springfield, Illinois on 2 October 1865. By the 20th the unit had been paid and officially discharged, and the victorious Illinois troops could return to their homes and loved ones.

The six and a half months that James spent as a Union soldier in the Civil War was most probably the greatest adventure of his life. Although he did not fight as long as his older brother William Anderson Murrell did, James helped to keep the assets the Union held safe through the very end of the war. His service was also rewarded with a pension in later years, and he lived in the Old Soldier’s Home or ‘national Military Home’ in Leavenworth, Kansas for a number of years.

 

More to come about the rest of the life of James Edward Murrell.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “11the Illinois Cavalry Regiment History, Adjutant General’s Report”– https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/history/c11cav.html
  2. “The History Place” Civil War timeline–  http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/
  3. FamilySearch US Civil War wiki–https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Civil_War_1861_to_1865,_Part_1
  4. 11th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry– https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/11th_Regiment,_Illinois_Cavalry
  5. “11th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry”–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/11th_Regiment_Illinois_Volunteer_Cavalry
  6. History, Illinois 11th Regiment Cavalry by Frederick H. Dyer in “A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion”– https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/dyers/cav-011.html
  7.  Regimental Histories–  https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/reghist.pdfClick to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
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Census Sunday: James Edward Murrell

James Edward Murrell, circa 1860s. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

James Edward Murrell was the fifth of six children born to Wiley Anderson Murrell (1806-1885) and Mary Magdalene (Honts) Murrell (1806-1887). He was the youngest brother of our ancestor Elizabeth Ann (Murrell) Roberts.

James was born on 15 November 1842 in Botetourt County, Virginia, like the rest of his siblings.  We can use the US Federal Census to follow his travels through his lifetime, and those censuses provide us some interesting information.

1850 US Federal Census of District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia, listing the Murrell family. (Click to enlarge.)

James was listed in the 1850 US Federal Census, living with his parents and siblings in District 8, Botetourt County, Virginia. In 1853 at age 11, he most likely made the trip with his family to Warren County, Illinois, walking the 175 miles alongside their covered wagon. Wonder what adventures he imagined or lived, and what treasures- rocks, feathers, broken wagon parts, bone, or ?? ended up in his boy’s pockets?

1860 US Federal Census for Wiley A. and Mary M. (Honts) Murrell in Warren County, Illinois, page 43, including son William Anderson Murrell. (Click to enlarge.)
1860 US Federal Census for Wiley A. and Mary M. (Honts) Murrell in Warren County, Illinois, continued on page 44 with James Murrell and Ann Elisy/Eliza Murrell. (Click to enlarge.)

At the US Federal Census taken on 19 June 1860, James was in Swan Twp., Warren Co., Illinois, as expected, and attending school. He would have been 14 or 17 (depending on birth year which varies), so he may have been in high school- unusual for farm boys in those days.

1860 US Federal Census for William and James Murrell in Wright County, Missouri. (Click to enlarge.)

The 1860 census for Wright County, Missouri, however, also lists a William Murrell, age 16, and a James Murrell, age 14, working for the Starling Casey family as farm laborers. This census was taken on 7 September, later than the Warren County census. These laborers were probably our Murrell uncles, as young men often traveled to find work, and it was harvest time so work would have been plentiful. Adding to the evidence that these two are indeed our uncles is that the two names are the brothers of Elizabeth (although they are common names), the age difference is approximately correct, the person responding to the census taker did not know the birthplace of either young man, and also the fact that James later settled in Missouri.

Here is where a bit of history helps us understand their life choices. The country continued to divide in the early 1860s over the issues of slavery and states’ rights. Missouri was a hotbed for both sides at that time. Wright County is in the southern part of Missouri, which was admitted to the Union as a slave state with the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The “Compromise” was that Maine was admitted as a free state to maintain balance, and a boundary line was drawn across the Louisiana Purchase to divide slave and non-slave areas for the future. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 negated the Compromise, allowing new states to decide whether or not to allow slavery. This Act further increased the tensions, to the extent of raids, murder, lynchings, coercion, gangs, etc. in the midwest, and especially Kansas and Missouri. Then the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, which was handed down at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri (where the last slave auction on the courthouse steps took place in 1861) redefined the status of slaves. The decision stated that Africans had no right to citizenship in the United States, and that allowing Dred Scott to have his freedom (and his wife and children theirs) was a legislative overreach of Congress by denying personal property rights to slave owners. (Dred Scott remained a slave until his owners gave him his freedom later that year, but he died the following year, in 1858. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, where some of our Helbling ancestors are also buried.)

So had William and James gone to Missouri sometime between June and September, when the two censuses were taken, and then been enumerated in both? The census was supposed to include “every person whose usual place of abode on the 1st day of June, 1860, was in this family.” So were they already gone to Missouri and the Murrells listed them at home in Illinois, or did the Casey family or enumerator in Missouri not understand and asked who was living in the home on the day in September that the census was counted? No one should have been counted twice, but people who moved often were, as is likely in this instance.

It would be interesting to know how long these two young men were in southern Missouri, which was very pro-slavery in those years. How did they feel coming from a northern community, where the majority was primarily anti-slavery? What did they see or experience themselves in the fields? We have already discussed that the Murrell family may have migrated to Illinois from Virginia to escape the looming Civil War- was it for a belief that abolition was necessary, as well as the safety the family, their land, and possessions? Whatever the case, we have already shown that William Anderson Murrell was motivated to join the Union cause in 1862, and his little brother James Edward Murrell followed in his footsteps and did the same in 1865. It is possible that this time in Missouri led to those choices.

 

More to come about the Civil War service of James Edward Murrell, and where he was in the following census years.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Image kindly shared by cousin Diane.
  2. 1860 census instructions– https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1860instructions.pdf
  3. “What’s in a Name?- Underground Railroad”–http://kwqc.com/2017/02/09/whats-in-a-name-underground-railroad/
  4. US Federal Census records as described found on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Friday’s Faces from the Past: The William A. Murrell-Cordelia Talley Family

“Mr. and Mrs. William A. Murrell (Cordelia Talley Murrell) and daughter Permelia Jane (Murrell) Manuel (Mrs. John Manuel). The children are Charles Manuel (in checkered dress), Ethel Violet standing in middle, and Ode is being held by Mother.” per Eva Manuel Mitchell’s handwriting on reverse. Photo circa 1894, probably in Warren County, Illinois. (Click to enlarge.)

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Willie and Cordelia (Talley) Murrell’s family:

4 July 1926
Warren Co., IL., U.S.A.
Willie is in center with George Overton Murrell and Nora B. (Cunningham) Murrell at his side. Robert Gordon Murrell is boy in front of Nora. After Robert’s mom died in 1941 his dad remarried a woman named Grace. It lasted only a couple years. Robert then went to live with his grandparents George and Nora Murrell.Believe Willies’ wife and daughters are also in photo.

Another listing of persons in photo:
Pictured starting in front L-R are Reva Icenogle holding baby Janice Icenogle; don’t know little boy; little girl may be Mary Kay Short; Doris Short; Howard Moore; Florence Moore; Paul D. Moore; Mable Swearingen; William Murrell; George Murrell; Nora Murrell; Harry Eldredge; Lois Tatman; Barbara Icenogle; back row is Barney Swearigen; John Lovdahl; Edgar Icenogle; Edith Icenogle; and can’t tell the rest of the people. Possibly later than 1926. (Click to enlarge.)

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Family treasure chest of photos. Thanks to the cousins who shared!

 

Click to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Wedding Wednesday: Cordelia Talley and William Anderson Murrell

William Anderson Murrell and Cordelia (Talley) Murrell- possibly wedding photo? If so, would have been taken 1 Oct 1867 in Warren Co., IL.

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

We last left William Anderson Murrell on his long-awaited Independence Day- 4 July 1865, when he was officially mustered out of the victorious Union Army.

Willie, as he was called, returned to Warren County, Illinois, where he married Cordelia “Delia” or “Adelia” Talley (1850-1941) on 1 October 1867; she was the daughter of Richard and Permelia (Carter) Talley.

The next year Mary Cathryn Murrell was born, followed by Permelia Jane Murrell  in 1870. George Overton Murrell was born 24 March 1872, but then, sadly, little Mary Cathryn passed away on 7 August. Another son, named William Anderson Murrell, after his father and probably paternal grandfather, was born in 1876. In 1900, the census indicated that Delia had borne 6 children, but only 4 were still living. Perhaps another child was born sometime between 1872-1876? We have found no record of another child.

The family lived in Swan Township, Warren County, Illinois, and are found there in the 1870 US Federal Census. The 1877 publication of  “The Past and Present of Warren County Illinois” by H. F. Kett & Co. noted that Willie “Murrill” was a farmer with land in Sec. 15 of the county. It also noted that he was born in Ohio- was that an editor’s error, or did Willie not want it known that he was born in Virginia, a Confederate state? It was less than 15 years since the Civil War, and emotions still ran high in our country concerning how our country had been torn asunder. Veterans struggled with war injuries, and their problems likely increased as they returned to farming or manual labor, or even an office job- and they also would have grown worse as they aged. Willie was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a service organization that cared for veterans and helped pass legislation to benefit them, such as the pension acts. These facts may help support the idea that the family had abolitionist leanings.

Roseville, where they eventually lived but probably sold their grain, cattle, etc., and purchased their goods, had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. We will probably never know if the family aided escaping slaves, but it is a definite possibility knowing that the Murrells had two sons who went off to fight for the Union Army.

In the 1880 US Federal Census, the family was still found in Swan Twp, with Permelia, George, and William all under the age of 10 and living in the household of their farming father.  The birthplaces of Willie and Cordelia were listed as ‘West Virginia’ which was formed during the Civil War of Unionists who refused to secede in 1861, like their parent state of Virginia.

In 1889 Permelia married John Calvin Manuel (1865-1950); they had ten children and lived in Roseville.

In 1898, there were two more marriages in the Murrell family. William Anderson Murrell (Jr. or III?) married Etta “Etty” Viola White (1880-1940) on 28 July 1898; they had five children, but apparently divorced sometime before 1916 when his wife remarried. His brother George Overton Murrell married Nora B. Cunningham (1875-1982) about a month later, on 24 August 1898 in Warren County, Illinois. George and Nora had six children, and also lived in Roseville for the rest of their lives.

Marriage certificate of George O. Murrell and Nora B. Cunningham.

William and his wife, listed as “Fredilia” Murrell, were still in Swan Twp. for the 1900 US Federal Census, and they had a servant living with them. Willie was 61, and Delia 49. They moved to Roseville after that, and Willie was listed as a laborer “working out” in 1910. By 1920 he had retired. He died just two years later, on 1 August 1922, in Roseville at age 81.

Cordelia was head of household and lived with their son, Willie, who, in 1930, was listed on the census as divorced. In 1940, they were in the same household, although Willie as listed as the head, and Cordelia erroneously is listed as his wife, with her age transcribed as 29 instead of 89. She died the next year, on 13 February 1941.

Headstone of William H. Murrell and his wife Cordelia (Talley) Murrell in Roseville Cemetery, (Sec. 3), Roseville, Illinois. Find A Grave, used with kind permission.

She is buried with her husband in Roseville Cemetery, Section 3 near the mausoleum. Twelve other Murrells, including their children and grandchildren, are buried in the same cemetery.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. William and Cordelia had 20 or more grandchildren upon their death (obituaries vary), and seven great-great grandchildren at Willie’s death, so many more by the time Cordelia died 19 years later in 1941.
  2. William’s Find A Grave Memorial is #75836198; you can link to the rest of the family memorials from his. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Murrell&GSiman=1&GScid=353347&GRid=75836198&
  3. Interestingly, the wife of William Anderson Murrell (b. 1876) remarried after their divorce, to John Helm Blount (1866-1949). A Blount family also married into the Roberts family- William’s aunt Elizabeth Ann Murrell married John Roberts. Wonder if there is any connection?
  4. Family photos and records- thanks to all the cousins who shared, esp. Cousin Diane who is a fantastic Murrell researcher!
  5. Please contact us if you are descended from any of these Murrells, and have done or would like to do a DNA test. We are still trying to determine the parents of Willie’s father, Wiley Anderson Murrell, and have conflicting/confusing data. Also, we would love to hear from other cousins and share family treasures!

 

Click to enlarge any image. Please contact us if you would like an image in higher resolution.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2017 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright or use of our blog material.

Tuesday’s Tip: Multiple Sources Tell the Story of William Anderson Murrell

Civil War pension papers of William Anderson Murrell, 11 July 1910.

Roberts Family, Murrell Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip: Use multiple sources when telling the story of an ancestor. Each one may provide only a small bit of unique information, but together those tidbits can tell a compelling story. You can find more sources by researching the references cited on a website or in a book.

 

We learned more about William Anderson Murrell’s military service by following this tip.

 

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Guerilla warfare was a significant part of the Civil War, and William A. Murrell and his regiment, the Illinois 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, provided heavy guard to the fort and surrounding areas. “The Past and Present of Warren County…” published in 1877 tells more of the story of the 83rd:

 

“…the whole country, especially the banks of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, were infested with guerrillas, [and the company] had daily skirmishes with the enemy, some of them quite severe as at Waverly (Tennessee) and at Garretsburg (Kentucky).”

 

Skirmishes were not all that soldiers on guard duty had to deal with. Battles occurred as well.

 

The 3rd day of February in 1863 likely dawned cold, and possibly there was snow on the ground. By the time the sun was high in the sky, Fort Donelson and its Union forces were attacked by the rebels of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joseph Wheeler, two of the Confederacy’s best commanders. The Confederates had 8,000 men, and William most likely was one of nine companies from the 83rd, plus 1 company from the Illinois 2nd, who were able to hold off the enemy for seven hours of fighting. By 8:30pm that night, the enemy withdrew; they had 800 men killed or wounded. Of the small garrison at the fort, of the 83rd, only 13 paid the ultimate price, and 51 were wounded. The fort was still under control of the Union that evening, despite the “Battle of Dover,” due to the bravery of soldiers like William A. Murrell.

 

After the surprising Confederate loss, it was reported that Forrest told his rival Wheeler, “Tell [General Bragg] that I will be in my coffin before I will fight again under your command.”

 

On 20 September 1863, the right wing of the regiment moved on to Clarksville, Tennessee, but we have not been able to determine if William was a part of this group. He most likely did end up in Clarksville at some point, however, per regimental histories.

 

Despite their hatred for each other, the Confederate officers Forrest and Wheeler were involved together in other battles with Union forces. One of their missions was to disrupt the communications of General Sherman as he marched through the south. The Illinois 83rd out of Clarksville pursued the rebel forces, and were involved in many skirmishes and fights.

 

During 1864, the 83rd Illinois was guarding over 200 miles of Union communications (telegraph, railroad, waterways, roads, etc.), and much heavy patrol duty was required to keep those lines in Union hands. An Adjutant General’s report on the Illinois 83rd told the story of one of the forays after the rebels:

 

“On the morning of the 20th of August, 1864, Captain William M. Turnbull, of Company B, with eleven of his company, left Fort Donelson in pursuit of a party of five guerrillas, who were making their way to the Tennessee River with a lot of horses, but failing to overtake them he was overpowered while returning to his command by a party of guerrillas secreted in the timber, and he and seven of  his men were killed, while one had both his legs broken, but he was afterward cowardly murdered by guerrillas, who found him lying helpless in a barn where some humane citizen had taken him for safety.  But three of the party escaped to tell the sad fate of their companions.”

 

(Wonder if there was any retribution by the guerrillas to the person who had helped the Union soldier to the barn? Sadly, it was highly likely…)

 

We know that William was probably not a part of this event, since he was in Co. H, not Co. B. Some of the young men of Co. B were from Roseville, however, and William may have known them. Even if he did not, hearing this story as the three survivors returned must have been frightening to 23-year old William and his fellow soldiers.

 

The winter of 1864-5 found the regiment in Nashville, Tennessee, on provost duty. This was essentially a ‘military police’ job, requiring them to keep order and discipline within the Union troops of the city.

 

The war was coming to a close, and that meant that William Anderson Murrell and his regiment were about to be mustered out of the Union Army. Colonel Arthur A. Smith, the commanding general of the Illinois 83rd, received the following letter commending his troops:

 

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Nashville, Tenn., May 31, 1865

Colonel A. A. Smith, Commanding Fifth Sub. District Middle Tennessee.

 

Dear Colonel – By an order just received the troops of 1862 will be mustered out of services.  Your Regiment will go out under that order.  I am unwilling to part with you and your officers and men without expressing my highest commendation of the soldierly bearing and gentlemanly conduct of all during the time they have been under my command.  At the time when I most needed brave men and steady soldiers to drive Wheeler and Forrest out of the district I was but too happy to avail myself of the services of as many of your Regiment as could be spared for that duty.  And relying greatly upon them I was not disappointed in their deportment.

 

I have not been troubled with complaints against them for disorderly conduct and marauding, but their deportment in the army and community has been brave and soldierly, proving that the brave man and true soldier is always honest and just.  I can truly say I do not know a regiment in the service whose brave and soldierly bearing more fully entitles it to the respect and gratitude of the country than the Eighty-third Infantry, and you and they will take with you, individually and collectively, my sincere thanks for your efficient services and my kindest wishes for your future welfare in all things.

I am, Colonel, very truly, etc.
Lovel H. Rosseau.
Major General Commanding

 

William and his brothers in arms were officially mustered out on 26 June 1865 at Nashville. The were moved to Chicago, Illinois, and received their discharge and final pay on 4 July 1865. What a true day of independence that was for all the soldiers discharged!

 

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 One fun and interesting tidbit that we did learn about William’s unit, following today’s tip about exploring a variety of sources:

 

Many of the young men enlisted in Co. C of the 83rd Illinois were from Roseville, Illinois.  So William may have had some dealings with the men in this unit, whether because he knew them personally or because they went out on patrol together, and lived together in the small garrison. One of the soldiers in Co. C, from Pella, Iowa, was Virgil Walter Earp. You might now be thinking of Wyatt Earp, the famous marshall who was involved in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral years later in Tombstone, Arizona. They were actually brothers, but Virgil was the more experienced with guns and had served longer as a lawman. Virgil was officially the City Marshal for Tombstone and a Deputy U.S. Marshal; he made his brother Wyatt an Assistant Deputy before the shootout in 1881, as well as their brother Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday. It may have been Virgil that fired the first shot in the shootout. His brother Wyatt, who spent most of his life as a gambler, got all the glory instead after a fictionalized biography called Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake was published in 1931.

 

It would be interesting to know William A. Murrell’s reaction when he heard the O.K. Corral shootout story and the name of a member of the Illinois 83rd…

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment– https://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/reg_html/083_reg.html
  2. 83rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/83rd_Illinois_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment
  3. Civil War Archive- 83rd regiment Infantry– http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unilinf7.htm#83rd
  4. Fort Donelson Battlefield- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson_National_Battlefield
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Donelson
    https://www.nps.gov/fodo/index.htm

  5. Virgil Earp–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil_Earp

 

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