52 Ancestors, Week 24: Russell Gordon Day, stepped on by a mule.

Copy of Civil War Document 

Russell Gordon Day was born in 1822 in Greece, New York.  He moved with his parents and siblings to Warren County, Illinois in the early 1840s.

Russell married Martha Barnum (who is a very distant relative of PT Barnum of circus fame) and whose family also moved from New York to Illinois in the early 1840s.  They were married 10 Mar 1846 in Illinois. They had a 9 children between 1848 and 1863. Their 7th child (Ross) is our ancestor.

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Russell (age 39) enrolled in the Union Army on the 24 Dec 1861 at Monmouth IL, in Company A of the 57th regiment of Illinois Volunteers to serve 3 years.  He left Martha at home with 7 children and probably pregnant with the 8th.

Roster showing Russell G Day, Private, 57th Infantry

The 57th was on the move in its first months:

  • Investment and capture of Fort Donelson, Tenn., February 14–16, 1862.
  • Moved to Fort Henry, Tenn., February 17;
  • thence to Crump's Landing, Tenn., March 8–13,
  • and to Pittsburg Landing March 28.

Russell's certificate of Disability for Discharge states that Russell was six feet tall, with dark complexion, light eyes, and dark hair.  He was by occupation a wagoner. "During the last two months said soldier has been unfit for duty 20 days.  The said Russell G Day was injured by a mule stepping on his abdomen about a month ago, since which time he has been growing worse. Pittsburg, Tenn,  April 1, 1862."

Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup.

The 57th saw its first action at the Battle of Shiloh, Tenn., April 6–7:
"The Battle of Shiloh, was a major battle in the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved deep into Tennessee and was encamped principally at Pittsburg Landing. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant there. The Confederates achieved considerable success on the first day, but were ultimately defeated on the second day." 3,482 killed, 16,420 wounded. (3)

"Notwithstanding this being the first severe engagement of the Fifty-seventh, they fought with all the heroism and valor that could have distinguished older and tried soldiers, but the contest was unequal;  Flanked upon both sides, and under an enfilading fire, the gallant command was forced to retire or suffer capture. In falling back the Regiment was subjected to a storm of grape and canister from the enemy's cannon. This ended the conflict for the day, night closing over the scene. In this murderous engagement the Fifty-seventh lost 187 of its officers and men." (2)

Records show that Russell was discharged on April 25, 1862, so he may have been present at the Battle of Shiloh without participating. (probably lucky for him!)  His discharge paper is marked on the reverse: "Headquarters Army of the Tennessee, in field Shiloh, April 25, 1862.  To be discharged by order of Maj Genl US Grant."  How cool is that !!

Russell must have been transported to St Louis. His Discharge Certificate goes on to say: "I certify that I have carefully examined the said Russell G Day and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of a double inguinal hernia which disables him from lifting or long or rapid walking.  My opinion is that the hernia was in existence at the time of his enlistment, but the disease has been aggravated by heavy lifting while serving as regimental wagoner. Degree of disability 1/4.  JR Zearing, surgeon. Discharged on 23 July 1862 at St Louis."

After the war, Russell returned to Warren County, IL where he was a farmer, and owned 160 acres of land and a Livery Stable.  In the 1870s, he and his family moved to Ringgold County, Iowa.

Russell (age 57) died on 17 May 1879 in Leon, Iowa.

Martha (age 68) applied for a pension based on his service in the War of the Rebellion on 14 Nov 1892.

Martha (age 71) died in 1895.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/57th_Illinois_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment (1)
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/reportofadjutant04illi1#page/37/mode/1up
  • http://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/history/057.html (2)
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shiloh (3)


  1. Going back eight generations to James A Day before hitting a dead end is still an amazingly long lineage. The Grant discharge paper for Russell is very impressive!

  2. Russell Gordon Day was my 3rd Great Grandfather through Fannie Day. This is great information - thank you so much for sharing.

    From what I have learned, the Days in Bastard were from Vermont.


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