“The only regret I experienced was that I did not carry a gun”

Benjamin B. Hamilton, Chaplain of the 61st Illinois Infantry.

Camp of 61st Ills Vols Bolivar Tenn

Feb 23 1863,

Maj Ohi showed me a Green County Loyalist today in which honorable mention is made…of the services of Capt Manning and Chaplain Hamilton in our late battle with Forests Brigade on the morning of the 19th December last…I felt resigned to my fate in allowing it to be known in Green County that I had been in a battle with the rebels. Some of my brother Chaplains think I ought not to have [been] there while on my part the only regret I experienced was that I did not carry a gun…I think Captain Manning…is at home now but I am afraid he will sup sorrow on account of his rash trip…I am afraid he has [got] himself into a bad scrape…The doings of the Illinois Copperheads have had a very unhappy influence upon the minds of some men in this Regiment. I think they are justly chargeable with the larger proportion of the Desertions which are taking place. There will be a bitter day of reckoning before long…Those men have no idea of the intense hatred entertained for them by four fifths of the army. And the day of vengeance is much nearer than any of them dream…

Benjamin B. Hamilton was commissioned into service on 1 November 1862 and resigned on 3 March 1865. At Shiloh, the regiment lost 80 men killed, wounded and missing. The regiment also saw action at Clarendon on the White River, and at Overall’s Creek just outside of Murfreesboro.

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