117th Illinois Infantry Volunteers 1862-1865  by: Edwin G. Gerling

Transcribed by Lisa K. Gendron


Diary of Benjamin R. Hieronymus, 1st Lieutenant, Company A

Illinois State Historical Library


September 24, 1864

            This evening there was some excitement in camp on account of the Rebel Gen. Joseph Shelby with a force threatening Cape Girardeau. The 2nd brigade was hurried out to Pilot Knob on the Iron Mountain Railroad.


September 25, 1864

            We drew three days rations and got ready for a move leaving everything unnecessary here. We did not start until near dark as we had to wait for the train to return. Went out to DeSoto where we waited for what cometh next.


September 26, 1864

            In camp at DeSoto


September 27, 1864

            Near the middle of the night, we got orders to move out at 4 a.m. as the Rebs had attacked Pilot Knob and our men were falling back to Minor’s Point, twenty miles from here. Many rumors are circulating in camp about Gen. Sterling Price and Gen. John Marmaduke.


September 28, 1864

“A guerrilla named Shelby Cole was captured as a spy. While under guard, he, having a small knife, succeeded in cutting the throat of the sergeant of the guard of the 27th Iowa, who died instantly. Cole badly wounded four other men in trying to escape. He then jumped from the car in which he was being guarded but was shot at by several and wounded slightly. We heard he had a wife and three or four children living about eight miles from DeSoto and that he had killed his twelve year old sister because she “Hurrahed” for Lincoln. He was a most desperate character and seemed to hate every man wearing the Federal uniform. Even while being drug to a tree from the switch where he had been guarded, he cursed most wickedly and vowed vengeance. He said he had killed more than a dozen Yankees and if he ever got the chance he would kill as many more. When they arrived at the tree selected for his execution, there was a loud call for a rope. There was a family living in a small house within a few rods. A calf was tied in their yard which the woman untied and furnished the rope. He was left hanging for perhaps three hours. Numbers of citizens came to see him and all agreed in saying tht he was the most dangerous man in all that section of the country and that his punishment was just.”

            At 10 p.m. we boarded the cars and proceeded to Pevely which is only about fifteen miles from St. Louis and went into camp.


September 29, 1864

            At 11 a.m. the troops and rolling stock passed up from DeSoto. We took up a line of march for Jefferson Barracks. Marched eight miles along the railroad and was met by a returning train which we then boarded and rode on into Jefferson Barracks arriving a little after sundown where we resumed our old quarters.