William Perry Holmes
William Perry Holmes, Company F, 40th Indiana Regiment
Boone County Historcial Society; William Perry Holmes Army Service; By Jonn Lawrence Holmes; Story Submitted by Steven Treaster.
William Perry Holmes enlisted as a private on December 11,1861 from his birthplace, Lebanon, Boone County, Indiana. He enlisted in Company F, 40th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The enlistment papers describe him as 26 years old. He was 5 feet, 11 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair. He was a farmer.
The regiment was commanded most of the war by Col. John Blake, a veteran of the Battle of Rich Mountain, West Virginia. The “Indianapolis Journal”, on April 30, 1863, described the unit; “The Regiment having by their rapid movements earned the title of, ‘Blake’s Greyhounds’, a Greyhound is appropriately embroidered on the right-hand corner of this gallant battle flag”.
The regiment was organized at Lafayette and Indianapolis, Indiana, and mustered into service on December 30, 1861. It also was known as the “Prairie Regiment’ for the area of recruitment. The regiment was immediately ordered to a camp of instruction at Bardstown, Kentucky, until February, 1862.
In January, 1862, the 40th was attached to the 21st Brigade, Army of the Ohio. The Regiment was involved in General Buell’s march to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee and into Northern Alabama. The 40th was in Buell’s Army of the Ohio on the second day of the Battle of Shiloh, April 7, 1862. It was then involved in Gen. Halleck’s advance on and the seige of Corinth, Mississippi.
The regiment was heavely involved in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 8, 1862, and the Battle of Murfreesboro or Stone River, on December 30-31, 1862 and January 1-3 1863. In January 1863, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, 14th Corps, as part of Wagner’s Brigade. On September 9, 1863, the regiment marched to garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and were so engaged during the Battle of Chickamauga. The 40th was then involved in the seige of Chattanooga.
The regiment was transferred to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Fourth Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland in October 1863 (Wagner’s Brigade).
They fought at Lookout Mountain. As part of Sheridan’s Division, they assaulted Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863. William P. Holmes was wounded in that assault. Sheridan’s Division took the highest number of casualties of any division in the Union Army that day.
William Perry Holmes is listed as in the hospital at Chattanooga on November 25, 1863. On February 15, 1864, he was promoted to corporal.
Most of the regiment reenlisted at the end of three years of service as a veteran volunteer regiment, furloughing back to Indiana. William P. Holmes reenlisted on February 15, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tenn. He received a reenlistment bounty of $400.
The regiment was involved in all the operations and battles against of the Atlanta Campaign with the Fourth Corps. The regiment took heavy losses in the unsuccessful Assault made just south of Kennesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864, at the “Dead Angle”.
On September 28, 1864, his application for a 30-day furlough to go home to Boone County, Indiana, to provide for his sick family was granted. Company monthly returns for November 1864 report him at home on furlough since November 2, 1864. The return for December 1864 reports him at home with smallpox since November 1, 1864. He returned to his company on February 12, 1865. Family oral history also talks about a smallpox epidemic in the family at that time. Another reason for his furlough may have been that Indiana troopswere not able to vote in the 1864 presidential election in the field, but instead had to return to their home districts for voting. Many of the Indiana troops were furloughed home because of the election.
The furlough at home removed him from Hood’s Nashville Campaign. The regiment fought in Gen. Scolfield’s Battle of Columbia and the Battle of Franklin, as well as the Battle of Nashville.
On December 5, 1864, during his furlough, he was promoted to sergeant. He was promoted to first sergeant on July 10, 1865.
The regiment operated in East Tennessee in March and April, 1865 and then was sent to Nashville. On June 16,1865, the 40th was ordered to New Orleans, Louisiana, and then to Texas duty in July 1865.
On September 1, 1865, William P. Holmes was promoted to second lieutenant. His service was entirely in Company F. The regiment continued Texas duty at Green Lake, San Antonio, and Port Lavacca until December 21, 1865, when it was mustered out.
William Perry Holmes moved from Indiana to Kansas in the early 1870, to farm in Reno County. He had several sons. He named one of them, my great-grandfather, Ulysses Sherman Holmes, to honor his two favorite army group commanders. My great-grandfather was known formally as U.S. Holmes and as “Sherm” to his friends.