Civil War News: The NINETY-EIGHTH INFANTRY ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS was organized at Centralia, Ill., September 1862, by Colonel John J. Funkhouser, and mustered in September 3. September 8, 1862, the Regiment was ordered to Louisville, Ky. At Bridgeport, Ill., whilst in route, the train was thrown from the track, by a misplaced switch, and Captain O. L. Kelly and 7 men were killed, and 75 were wounded.
The above information was taken from the Illinois State Archives on-line data base of Illinois Civil War rosters and unit histories. We published it on this blog earlier.
Since then a letter describing the Bridgeport Train wreck has been found written to J. J. Mills by his wife Lidia. It is transcribed here as it was written.
September 10, 1862 Greenland Illinois
Dear Husband, I once more take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all well at the present time hoping when these few lines come to hand they may find you well and enjoying the same God’s blessing. But, John, I have very sad news to send to you. William W Troutman has just returned and he has brought William H Mills and he is dead. Their Regiment had started to Louisville, Kentucky and the train ran off the track at Bridgeport and killed William G Mills, William W Weel, Henry Hoffman, Capt. O.L. Kelly and wounded 28 more of his men... Troutman thinks two or three are seriously wounded, several wounded in the leg and a great many lightly wounded that will be unable for duty. Isah Williams is slight wounded on the back of the head.
William Troutman says they were running at the top of speed when they run on a switch that it was put just right to throw the train off. That dun the derailment and with the train it was supposed to have been done by seesish sympathizers and they caught him the next day and put him on the train with seven or eight bayonets to guard him or at least they supposed him to be the one. We will bury William this evening for he has been dead now two nights and one day and he is beginning to smell very bad. He was killed instantly so he never spoke to any person. He will be buried in his soldier suit.
Well John, I am confused, I must close by adding my best love and respect to you and the children does the same. William was in the 98th under Capt. O. L. Kelly. I do not know to who will be their Capt. now.
Please write soon as you can.