Company K, 20th Illinois

Fearful Loss of Life at the Battle of Raymond

Published in Kendall County Record, September 3, 1890

To the Editor:

My attention has been called to an article published in the Record some months ago entitled "Regimental Losses," in which it is stated that the Wisconsin regiment commanded by Colonel Fairchild lost more men in battle than any other regiment during the war. Kendall County furnished about 1500 men during the conflict, but no entire regiment. There were men from this county in the ranks of the 11th Illinois Infantry commanded by Colonel Wallace of Ottawa, and the regiment had a splendid fighting record. Some of our men were also in several other very early regiments. However, the first full company from this county was organized at Newark in the spring of 1861, and became Company K, of the 20th Illinois Volunteers. It contained men from every township in the county, but the majority were from the vicinity of Newark. This company participated in a number of engagements with the enemy and had many killed and wounded in battle.

It went into the battle of Raymond, Mississippi with only about 25 percent of its original strength. In that desperate fight lost eight men, as follows: Benjamin Adams, David Barrows and William Reed of Newark; William Shoger and John Woodruff of Oswego; Israel Watters of Plattville; Robert Taylor of Lisbon, and Henry Mitchell of NaAuSay.

Adams was shot by the first volley from the enemy, while the Union line was lying flat on the ground waiting for the skirmishers to rally in. The ball struck near the shoulder and ranged downward through the ribs and breastbone, making a fearful wound. Mitchell was shot through the body and killed instantly. Barrows, Shoger and Waters were all shot through the head and were killed instantly. These three were close to one another in the ranks and were killed on the same spot. They touched each other as they lay dead on the field where they fell. Robert Taylor was shot through the hips. He lived two or three days. William Reed was shot through the head but lived nearly a week. John Woodruff was shot in the leg. The wounded limb was first amputated below the knee and then above the knee. Woodruff died after about three weeks of fearful suffering.

After the battle, Benjamin Adams was picked up, still alive, and put into an ambulance to be conveyed to the field hospital. The ambulance had not gone far when it was seen that Adams was in a dying condition. He was taken out of the ambulance and laid under a tree where he soon died and was buried. Barrows, Shoger, Waters and Mitchell were all buried in the same grave as soon as the fighting was over. If there is any other Kendall County company that lost as great a number of men in any one battle we would like to hear from that company. Signed: Observer

Last Modified on 2012-11-23 00:14:53-0600 CST by Elmer Dickson