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United States. Army. Wilder's Brigade



John T. Wilder's brigade was mostly active between 1862 and 1864. Their major contibutions to the Union side of the Civil War were during the Battle of Chickamauga and the Tullahoma Campaign. They consisted of Indiana Infantry Regiments 17 and 72, Illinois Infantry Regiments 9 and 123, and the 18th Indiana Battery of Light Artillery (commanded by Captain Eli Lilly).

In December of 1862, Wilder was put in charge of his brigade. Their first assignment was to guard supply lines against raids from Col. John Hunt Morgan. Morgan's troops easily outmaneuvered Wilder's, so Wilder sought and received permission for his brigade to become mounted infantry.

Early in 1863, Wilder's brigade also became notable for their procurement of Spencer repeating rifles. When Spencer tried to obtain newer rifles for his men, he found the bureaucratic procedures meant that it would be some time before his brigade could be outfitted. So Wilder procured a personal loan from his hometown bank and every man in the brigade pledged three months' pay (about $35) to buy their own rifles. When it came to the government's attention that Wilder had done this, they quickly paid the money for the rifles before any of the men had to.

In June of 1863, Wilder's brigade fought their first influential battle in the Civil War. On 1863 June 24, Wilder's brigade was in the front lines of the Battle for Hoover's Gap, one of the most important battles in the Union's Tullahoma Campaign. Wilder's troops promptly pushed back Confederate forces, earning the nickname "the Lightning Brigade".

The Brigade's other important encounters happened later that year at the Battle of Chickamauga. On 1863 Sept 18 (the first day of fighting), the infantrymen of the Lightning Brigade were set defending Alexander's Crossing. They were successful for hours holding back Confederate troops, and in doing so protected a vulnerable flank of Union forces. Two days later, on 20 Spet 1863, they took the offensive and attacked General Arthur Manigault's brigade, forcing them to retreat.

Conway, Jim. "The Battle for Hoover's Gap". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (2010).
Indiana State Government. "The Lightning Brigade." Accessed at Indiana War Memorial.
"John T. Wilder: Colonel (January 31, 1830 - October 20, 1917)." Civil War Trust. CivilWar.Org. Accessed 2014 Feb 15.
Lively, Matthew W. "John T. Wilder and the Spencer Repeating Rifle." Civil War Profiles (2013).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

John T. Wilder papers

Identifier: MS-001
Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence and military records regarding Brigadier General Wilder's service in the Union Army during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 as well as personal correspondence and papers dating from 1865 to 1937.

Dates: 1861-1937
Found in: Manuscripts