Alfred Tindall 

Contributed by James Anderson

 

Veteran of the Civil War, Alfred died in service of disease at the age of twenty in an army hospital at Nashville, Tennessee.

He was born on the fifth of March 1843, at Lawrence County, Ohio, the fifth of ten children of Easton Tindall and Elizabeth Lantz or Lawtz. He died on April 23, 1863, and is buried next to his mother in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, one and one-half miles southwest of Eden, Illinois.

Alfred enlisted in the Union Army with his brothers Allen and John as a Private in Company I, of the 86th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, on August 11, 1862, at Lancaster, Illinois. They joined together for a three-year term. The 86th Illinois was organized with several other Illinois regiments, including its “twin” the 85th Illinois, in response to President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 new troops in July 1862, on the heels of the Battle of Shiloh. The 86th was mustered into service later that month in Peoria at Camp Lyon on the site of the old fairgrounds, at the west gate of Glen Oak Park. The 86th was initially attached to the Army of the Ohio for service in the western theatre, organized to check Confederate advances in Kentucky and Tennessee. From late that year until the end of the war, the 86th was attached to the 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On September 6, 1862, the Tindall brothers and the 86th broke camp in Peoria and boarded trains bound for Louisville, in pursuit of General Braxton Bragg’s Army of the Tennessee. While waiting in vain for Bragg in defensive positions ringing the city, the Union Commander, Major General Don Carlos Buell reorganized his largely inexperienced Army of “Squirrel Hunters.” The 86th was assigned to Major General Charles Champion Gilbert’s Third Corps and Brigadier General Phillip Sheridan’s 11th Division. The 86th was one of four infantry regiments comprising the 36th Brigade, under the command of Colonel Daniel McCook.

On October 1, 1862, the Army began offensive operations in the midst of a prolonged drought, advancing southeast in pursuit of the enemy. Buell’s advance elements overtook Bragg’s Confederates at Perryville, Kentucky, with Sheridan’s Division arriving on the evening of the 7th. Now desperate for water, Buell’s 55,000 Union troops fronted Bragg’s 16,000 Confederates deployed west of the town and the Chaplin River. The next morning on the eighth in the twilight before sunrise, the 36th Brigade was ordered forward on the extreme left of the Union lines, carrying a creek and a range of hills. The 86th was on picket duty that morning, skirmishing as they advanced. After entrenching on Chaplin Heights, the Division was attacked with a furious frontal assault which was repulsed. The Division then pushed the retreating Confederates back toward the town, gaining favorable ground enabling Sheridan’s batteries to menace the flank of Confederate infantry units which were routing the Union 1st Corps on their right. The battle ended about four o’clock in the afternoon, more or less a stalemate. Bragg’s Army then retired under cover of darkness. In their first encounter with the enemy, the 86th lost one man killed and thirteen wounded. Overall, Buell’s Army did not fare as well. 4,211 Union troops fell that day with 845 killed, compared to 3,396 Confederate casualties with 510 killed The bloody mess at Perryville proved a lost opportunity for the Union and cost Buell his command.

In pursuing the retreating Confederates, the Army charted a course for the transportation hub of Nashville, captured from the Confederacy earlier in the year. The Army arrived on November 7. Much to its consternation, at least according to its Division commander, the 36th Brigade was relieved and assigned garrison duty to protect depots and supply lines in the city. The Brigade then went into winter quarters.

It is unclear whether Alfred was with his unit at the regiment’s first battle at Perryville. He may have been hospitalized. Grouped with a large number of men in unsanitary conditions, the new recruits in particular began to suffer from camp diarrhea and other illnesses in camp and on the march. In his memoirs, General Sheridan wrote that his forces were much diminished by sickness in the fall of 1862: “many poor fellows, overcome by fatigue, and diseases induced by the heat, dust, and drought of the season, had to be left at roadside hospitals.”Conditions were hardly better in Nashville. Provisions, proper clothing and clean water there were scarce and the men were inexperienced in the art of winter camping. To make matters worse, medical services were primitive and the early Army hospitals were poorly equipped. One veteran of the regiment described the times at Nashville as “sad and disagreeable…”

Some twenty odd men would live in the same tent, cook from a camp kettle swung in the middle of it, make their beds on the damp ground, frequently without even straw or boards under them. Snow fell, and the cold, keen winds of winter whistled about, while the poor soldiers lay cold and damp within… Many were taken ill and died from this exposure; more died and were discharged during this winter than in all our previous and after term of service.

Whether or not Alfred fought at Perryville, it is clear that sickness overcame both he and his brother Allen that fall and winter, ultimately killing the youngest of the three brothers and permanently removing Allen from the ranks of the 86th.

Alfred’s remains were likely buried on the hospital grounds and disinterred for shipment home and reburial after the war, as part of the great Federal effort to identify and honor the union war dead. Alfred was one of eighty-six men in the Regiment to die of disease out of the 923 men mustered into service.

Almost four decades after Alfred’s death, on October 6, 1899, President McKinley dedicated an extraordinary civil war monument in the memory of Peoria’s honored dead in the city’s Courthouse Square. Alfred’s name is carved in bronze with other Illinois veterans from the Peoria vicinity lost in the war. Alfred’s grave marker in the small Pleasant Grove Cemetery is well worn, but still legible, citing his service in the 86th Illinois Infantry Regiment. The grave is in the middle section of the cemetery and is the last in the fourth or fifth row from the back and adjacent to cemetery pathway. (headstone photo)

It appears that Alfred’s parents were deceased before he went to war. Easton and Elizabeth married on March 10, 1831, and began raising their large family in Lawrence County, Ohio coal country in the extreme southern-central portion of the state on the Ohio River. Family genealogy records indicate that the family resettled to Mt. Vernon, Ohio in the early 1840s. The family then traveled west to Illinois, arriving in the Peoria area in about 1850. By that time, their family was considerable. Besides the three brothers in the war, the family included James (b1833), Becky (b1841), Charlotte Emaline (2/8/1845-8/15/1925), George (b1847), Martha (1849), Emma and Jarvis who died as a small child. Their mother Elizabeth (b5/28/1813) died in her early 40s on April 14, 1855. Family records indicate that Easton traveled west for the gold rush sometime before 1860, and died or was killed in the process, leaving his large family behind.

Their son Alfred did not marry before his death in the war.

 


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