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Thomas Benton Kelley
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Thomas Benton Kelley of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Company E. Thomas Benton Kelley is well-known for having given the alarm which caused the first shot at Gettysburg. His 1863 diary includes several entries of his battle experiences at Gettysburg. Kelley enlisted in the 8th Illinois Cavalry on 10 September 1861 and mustered into service eight days later. He joined the Army of the Potomac and was in every engagement from first Bull Run to the Siege of Petersburg; 82 engagements in all. He was wounded four times by bullets and three times by sabre. On 15 September 1862 Thomas participated in six sabre charges within 40 minutes and captured 7 Confederate soldiers. Throughout the course of his three year service five horses were shot from under him. First diary spans 1 January 1862 to 27 June 1862. Second diary runs 1 January 1863 to 31 December 1863 and includes entries for Gettysburg. Excerpts: Gettysburg, 1 July 1863, "...JD Hale and me on post on Chamberburg Road. I let the reserve know of approach of enemy. I came off post 7 o'clock. Large Reb Infantry force advancing Lt Jones fired the first shot on them our Co and Co H came up and we dismounted & skirmished with them until we got back to our Battery...when our infantry came up and a Gen engagement ensued lasting all day...I saw Gen Reynolds fall we took...Tenesee Brig down through Gettysburg our men jubilant We fought mounted all /PM..." 2 July 1863, "...At light our men were at it hot and heavy we moved to Taney Town where we camped for the night very heavy firing & cannonading in the direction of Gettsburg our reinforcements on the way..." 3 July 1863, "...Camped at Westminster whear we lay all day we could not get anything definite from the front many prisoners coming in all the time 960 in one squad Rained very hard heavy cannonading..." 7 July 1863, "...Saddled up at Sun rise Geo Sager and I went out the Williamsport Road to the 4 Corners we found Major Madell dangerous wounded &...moved our boys we turned about came to Boonboro & camped Rained awful hard during the night we had no tents..." 8 July 1863, "...I got up and went down town to Mr Ordivers saw Geo the Rebs came in on our pickets our Brig was immediately ordered to front. Brig was dismounted & held & in fact advanced our Right up Kilpatrick was drove in on the left & we were ordered to fall back we went on the lower edge of the mounted. we were sent for & dismounting drove the Rebs 3 1/2 miles and never let them stop. Ben Weaver of Co D was shot dead with a shell..." 8 August 1863, "...Awful hot but fair. I went outside of the Cavalry Pickets and let my horse Bait and cut some nice grass...I Recd a letter from Mary saying that Cousin Laura Kelley was dead..." Culpepper Courthouse, 13 September 1863, "...Bugle got us out at 3 am but it commenced raining and we did not move out until day light we croped and attacked the Rebs driving them through CullPepper Court House whear we lay for 2 hours when our Regt took the advance. In the first dash my horse was wounded and I stoped in a barn all night turning my horse loose..." 12 October 1863, "...We saddled up at 7 and remained so until 12 when we croped with our Division on a Position above the RR Bridge making the 6 Corps in line of Battle at the edge of the woods we encountered Stewarts Cavalry when 3 miles from the Bridge and drove them within 3/4 miles of CullPepper Court House where we encountered the infantry we fought them until after dark when we fell back to Brandy Station where we found 6 Corps in line of Battle with a fire...unsaddled some picket firing in the night..." 4 May 1862, "...Nice day, fireing of the heavy Siege guns at Yorktown continued until after 12 last night also very heavy voly of musketry at 4am this morning. Order given for gen. inspection. Boys all got ready for it when an order came for our Regt to make immediately to the front as Yorktown was evacuated. Boys all ready soon & were off on double came in that Rebels had blowed up their fortifications as our Army marched in I put on my stripes for Corporal...
Added by: Larry Chenault

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