Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery

"A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets" General William Tecumseh Sherman


October 2015

Joseph M. Steele

Joseph Steele enlisted in 1861 at the age of 20. He was described as being 5’7″ tall, with black hair, hazel eyes, and a light complexion. He was single, a farmer, and enlisted at Lane Depot in Ogle County, Illinois. He received a promotion to corporal.

On January 25, 1865, Joseph was given 25 days leave, to accompany the body of his brother, William, home to Illinois. Joseph boarded a steamer at Eastport, Mississippi. On the Tennessee River, somewhere near Johnson’s Landing, the steamer blew up. Joseph survived, although his eyes – already troublesome from exposure at Vicksburg – were further injured and “continued to afflict him during his continuance in the service.” William’s body was lost in the explosion.

After the war, Joseph farmed and lived in Ogle County, Illinois until June of 1876. He moved to Strawberry Township, Washington County, Kansas, where he spent the remainder of his life. Ironically, after serving four years in the artillery, escaping the sinking of the Horizon at Vicksburg in ’63, and surviving the explosion of another steamer in ’65 – Joseph Steele died as a result of a Fourth of July fireworks accident. He lingered a few weeks, but succumbed to his injuries on July 24, 1882.
SOURCES: Barnickel, We Enlisted as Patriots (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1998). Joseph Steele pension file, National Archives.

Benjamin Sherburne

Benjamin F. Sherburne was born in 1839 at “Ontanobo” [sic – Ontario?], New York. He enlisted on 11 September 1861 at DeKalb, Illinois, and was mustered into service on October 5, 1861 at Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois. His physical description at the time of his enlistment stated he was 6 feet tall, had a dark complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. His occupation was farmer.

Plagued with sickness throughout his service, especially chronic dysentery, he spent 16 months on the sick list, confined to his bed in hospitals in Vicksburg, Memphis and Chicago, and was finally discharged for disability on 21 May 1864 in Chicago. A doctor’s report at the time of his discharge found him “greatly emaciated” and his prospects for recovery were “remote;” he was not even fit for service in the Invalid Corps. Benjamin’s residence at his discharge was given as Burlington, Kane County, Illinois.

After the war, Benjamin Sherburn lived in Clarkesville, Butler Co., Iowa, from at least as early as 1869 until as late as 1919, possibly until his death after that time. Benjamin had at least two children who were also living in Iowa in 1919: Guy in Waterloo, and Harvey in Clarksville.

Benjamin was the brother of Albert, who also served in Battery G. Benjamin had two sisters still living in 1918, Mrs. Marietta Thompson of Wynot, Nebraska; and Mrs. Emmaline Hannat of Shellrock, Iowa.

Benjamin died Dec. 23, 1919 in Waterloo, Iowa. For more biographical information, read Benjamin’s obituary.

SOURCES: Benjamin Sherburne military service record file, National Archives. Albert Sherburne pension file, National Archives.


Benjamin Franklin Sherburne was born in Canandaigua, New York, January 4, 1836, and died in Waterloo, Iowa, December 23, 1919. When he was a lad eleven years of age, Mr. Sherburne came with his parents to Sycamore, Illinois. Here he grew to manhood. On September 1, 1861, he enlisted in Company G, Second Ill. Light Artillery, where he served three years. In 1863 he came to Clarksville, Iowa which has been his home the greater part of the time since.

In 1867 he was married to Miss Sophrinia* Bishop. To this union were born five children, Frank W. of Ainsworth, Nebraska, Harvey H. and Mrs. B.F. Coldren of Clarksville and Gertrude I. Stark of Waterloo, Iowa, and Guy W., who died November 6th of the present year.

Mr. Sherburne has seen something of the west. In 1870 he moved with his family to Cedar County, Nebraska, where he resided ten years. He returned to Butler county, Iowa, from there; and in 1884 he moved to Dayton, Washington, where he resided two years. From there he returned to Clarksville, Iowa, where he has since made his home, excepting a few short periods of time in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

He was a man of splendid natural abilities. He had a powerful physique, a splendid mind, and a much more than ordinary gift of language and the ability to express his thots *in —–lle (illegible). He was at one time an active, enthusiastic christian man. During his stay in Nebraska he entered in the Methodist denomination. After working all week on the farm he would ride thirty miles on Sunday and preach three times. Returning to Clarksville to reside he united with the Presbyterian church, where he labored in his usual way, but as a lay member, un- (illegible) some unfortunate differences he became sidetracked and became a spiritual wandered until his last illness, when he yielded to the consciousness of his mistake, came back to the assurance of faith, which is only another instance of the patience of God’s love with those born into Jesus Christ, but have wandered. The writer had several talks with the departed on the subject of religion, and writes, not from any whimpering sentiment on the part of the deceased; but from a frank talk, in which prayer was a prominent part. Only the spirit of God leads and inclines men’s hearts to repose faith in him, altho human agencies may be used, God always takes the initiative (John 15:16). Man is apt to presume upon God and take chances. The loss that comes to men in moral and spiritual things is always the fault of the presuming human. God wills to save. Only man Hinders. Man wants the indulgence of sin in one hand and God’s gift of salvation in the other.Our choice determines our destiny. Where we are found when God’s people meet for worship and what we choose to do in the meanwhile is the label for our lives, indicating either our choice of walking with God or the enemy of souls.

To the bereaved we express our sympathy. Let the mantle of God’s love cover the mistakes of his repentant children. And, if mistakes in life’s journey in others become apparent to us, let this consciousness determine us to be enthusiastic in helping the mistaken ones to resume the line of God’s Leadership.

Mr. Sherburne was a charter member of the Masonic fraternity in Clarksville; and a large number of Masons were present at the funeral and administered the rites of their fraternity at the church and at the grave.

The funeral services were conducted in the Presbyterian church at 2:00 p.m., December 26th, by Rev. Thos. E. Sherman, who presented the subject, “Things We Should Know.” His text was: “For we know that if our earthly house this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1).

* as written
SOURCES: Obit of Benjamin F. Sherburne from the Clarskville, Iowa newspaper, Jan. 1, 1920. Courtesy Ceil Damschroder, Colorado Springs, Colorado – August 2000, posted with permission.

Albert Sherburne

Left to right Nelson Frost, Harrison Whitmore and Al Sherburn.  Photo used with permission of Jason Pate.


Albert Sherburne (full name John Albert Granger Sherburne) was born on September 9, 1838 at Canandaigua, Ontario, New York, the son of Hezekiah and Mary Sherburne. The family moved to Sycamore, DeKalb County, Illinois, sometime around 1847.

When war broke out, Albert enlisted on 16 September 1861 at DeKalb, Illinois, and was mustered into service on October 5, 1861 at Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois. His physical description at the time of his enlistment described him as being 5’11”, with a dark complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. His occupation was farmer. His brother, Benjamin, had also enlisted in the same battery, just a few days before.

He suffered with the measles while at Camp Butler early in his service. In May or June 1863, he was deafened in both ears as a result of the loud artillery in battle. His condition would be so bad that in later years, he had difficulty hearing regular conversation just a few feet away from him. On January 15, 1865, at Eastport, Mississippi, he was captured by the Rebels, and shortly thereafter was sent to the notorious Andersonville Prison. He remained P.O.W. until April 28, 1865, when he was paroled in Florida, and he was discharged on June 12, 1865 at Springfield, Illinois.

Albert returned to Sycamore for a short time after the war, then moved to Allegan, Michigan, where he was a teamster on the route from Allegan to Kalamazoo. On June 11, 1869, Albert married Elizabeth Noggle, a local schoolteacher. Soon after their marriage, the Sherburnes moved to Clarksville, Iowa, and then Wynot, Nebraska, where they homesteaded around 1872. Driven out by the grasshoppers, the Sherburnes returned to Allegan, Michigan.

The couple had five children: Frederick, Minnie, Anna, May and Margaret.

In 1897, disputes about the importance of educating the children, particularly the girls, drove Albert and Elizabeth to separate. His drinking may have also been a contributing factor to his marital strife. Elizabeth provided for her family by working in a dressmaking shop, ensuring that her children could attend school.

When the couple separated, Albert deeded the home and a milk cow to his wife, then headed west, joining some of his siblings in Iowa and Nebraska. He drifted at times to relatives in New York, back to Michigan, and to his son near Chicago. Albert seldom stayed for long in one place, and apparently found work as a teamster and laborer, usually residing with friends or relatives. Though some of his siblings felt strongly that Albert should divorce Elizabeth, he refused, concerned that she would get “everything he had.”

Albert died of a stroke at his sister’s home, Mrs. Marietta Thompson, on February 1, 1914 at Wynot, Nebraska, where he was buried.

SOURCES: Albert Sherburne military service record file, National Archives. Albert Sherburne pension file, National Archives.

John Schoonmaker

John Schoonmaker was born April 2, 1842 in Winnebago Township, Winnebago County, Illinois, the son of Henry and Mary Schoonmaker. He initially enlisted on August 11, 1862 in Company E, 74th Illinois Infantry, where he served for just 5 months. At his enlistment, he was described as being 20 years old, 5’9″ tall, light complexion, gray eyes, light hair, and by occupation, a farmer. In his short term of service, he saw action in his first major engagement at Perryville, Kentucky. He was soon discharged for disability. His discharge papers claimed he had “hypertrophy of the heart” which was present before his enlistment, but grew worse due to exposure. The examining physician declared that “he can be of no use to the service.” His condition was so bad that his brother, William, said upon his return, “he was a hard-looking man. I hardly recognized him as my brother.”

After recovering at home, John again enlisted for the Union cause, joining Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery in January 1864, and returning at the conclusion of their service in September of 1865.

After the war, he married L.L.M. Posson in 1868, and they had three daughters: Ella (b. 1869); Fannie (b. 1874); and Maggie (b. 1877). The Schoonmakers farmed in Winnebago Township, and moved to Rockford in their later years to retire. John Schoonmaker died Mar. 23, 1927, and is buried in Winnebago Cemetery

SOURCES: John Schoonmaker partial pension file, National Archives (provided through courtesy and generous donation of Del & Phyllis Tedrick); Charles A Church, Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois, Together with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Leading and Prominent Citizens and Illustrious Dead. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1905.

Robert M. Padgett

Robert Padgett enlisted in Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery on September 16, 1861 at Lane [now Rochelle], Ogle County, Illinois, and was subsequently mustered in to service on October 5, 1861 at Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois. He was born in Washington, Pennsylvania around 1842. At enlistment, he was described as being a farmer, having light hair and complexion, grey eyes, and standing 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall.

He was absent due to illness and confinement in a Memphis hospital from approximately June 28, 1863 until August 1863. He was promoted to the rank of corporal on March 15, 1864, and became a sergeant on September 10, 1864. He returned north for recruiting service on November 14, 1863, where he remained until April 29, 1864. He reenlisted while recruiting, in March 1864.

When he was mustered out with the battery in September of 1865, he had not been paid since February. The government still owed him $3.42 on his clothing account, and a whopping $240 on his reenlistment bounty.

At this time, very little is known of his life after the war. He appears in the 1870 census living in Ogle County, and in 1880 in Chicago. He was commander of the George H. Thomas post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Chicago at the time of his death. He died on June 27, 1922 and is buried in Oakwood cemetery.

SOURCES: Robert Padgett military records, National Archives; 1870 and 1880 Federal census; Roll of Honor, Deceased Ex Service Men and Women in Illinois. (Springfield, IL, 1929) extracted by Tim Tedrick; Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1922, p. 25.

Charles J. Mellberg

Charles J. Mellberg enlisted in 1861 when he was 30 years old. He was 6 feet tall, with auburn hair, gray eyes, and a light complexion. He was single, a farmer, and resided at Mendota, LaSalle County, Illinois. When he reenlisted in March of 1864, he gave his residence as Chicago. He was born at Sandskrona, Sweden.

From August 25 to November 25, 1863, Mellberg was sick in the hospital at New House of Refuge in St. Louis, Missouri, along with his battery-mates, Samuel Garst and Hiram Scutt. He was promoted to corporal on Sept. 10, 1864, but then at the end of the battery’s service, was designated “supernumerary non-commissioned officer” on account of “the Battery having been reduced to four guns” in early August, 1865. He was mustered out with the rest of the battery on Sept. 4, 1865 at Springfield, Illinois.

SOURCES: Barnickel, We Enlisted as Patriots (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1998). Charles J. Mellberg military records, National Archives (provided through courtesy and generous donation of Tim Tedrick).

Thomas McCauley

At this time, we have only limited information on Thomas McCauley. He was just 18 when he joined the battery early in 1864 in Chicago. Just six months later, on July 14, he was wounded and “left in the hands of the enemy” at Tupelo, Mississippi. Medical records report that his right leg was amputated at the thigh, and it is believed that he died of his wounds.

SOURCES: Battery G Muster Roll, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War vol. XI, (reprint of Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Part III, Vol. II, Surgical History by George A. Otis and D.L. Huntington, second issue, original published by Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1883; reprinted by Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC 1991) p. 272.

Jefferson Loveridge

Jefferson Loveridge enlisted in 1861 at the age of 18. He was described as being 5’7″ tall, with black hair, hazel eyes, and a dark complexion. He was single, a farmer, and resided at Lane, Ogle County, Illinois. Sometime in 1864 or 1865, he received a promotion to corporal.

During the grueling march across Missouri in October and November of 1864, Loveridge suffered eye problems “owing to unavoidable exposure to inclement weather arising partly from the use of unsuitable tents and partly from such exposure while on march,” and it was upon this basis that he filed his claim for a pension.

After the war, Loveridge lived in Kendallville, Noble County, Indiana in 1866 (where he apparently had ties during the war); Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana in 1870; Crystal Valley, Oceana County, Michigan in 1876.
SOURCES: Barnickel, We Enlisted as Patriots (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1998). Jefferson Loveridge partial pension file, National Archives.

John Ingalls

At the time of his enlistment as Quartermaster Sergeant in 1861, John Ingalls was 44 years old, 5’9″ tall, married, had a light complexion, brown hair, and gray eyes. Born in Wales, New York in 1817, Ingalls was a resident of DeKalb, Illinois at the time of enlistment.

He studied medicine before coming to Wisconsin in 1850, moving to Illinois in 1859 or 1860. Although he gave his occupation as a dentist when he enlisted, he served much of his time in the military on detached service as a surgeon at and around Jackson, Tennessee. After appearing before a board of examiners, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the 59th U.S. Colored Troops (3rd Tennessee Colored Infantry) in August of 1863, and his association with Battery G came to an end. A photograph of him was taken after he had left the battery and joined the officer corps of the 59th USCT, and is on display at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. He was described as a quiet man and “a true friend,” who “was always at his post, and was fearless in battle.”

After the war, he and his wife settled in Memphis, where he continued his medical practice, but due to his generous spirit – which was sometimes taken advantage of – he was quite poor. Both he and his wife (A.C. Horton) died in the Memphis Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878, and left no survivors.

SOURCES: Battery G Muster Roll, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Fifty-Ninth U.S.C. Infantry, by Col. Robert Cowden (Dayton, OH: United Brethren, 1883), p. 206-207.

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