|Name at Enlist||Robert Cheatam|
|Other Names||Bob Cheatham, Robert Cheaton, Cheatom|
|Lived||ca. 1842 - 1910|
|Company at Enlistment||K|
|Rank at Enlistment||Undercook|
|Muster Date||1 Aug 1863|
|2nd Spouse||Hannah Grayson (Graceson)|
|2nd Spouse Lived||1847-|
|2nd Marriage Date||1877|
Robert Cheatam was born about 1842 in VA. On July 3, 1863, the 15th WI went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN, as part of the Union Army then under the command of U.S. Major General Rosecrans. There on August 1, 1863, Bob Cheatam, an "African" was enlisted as an Under Cook in Company K of the 15th. The men of that company called themselves "Clausen's Guards" in honor of the regiment's first Chaplain, Claus L. Clausen. Bob Cheatam was recruited for a 3-year term of service by Captain Mons Grinager and his enlistment was witnessed by 2nd Lieutenant Ellend Errickson.
Bob Cheatam was examined by Surgeon A.F. Lindsfelt who certified that he was "free from all bodily defects and mental infirmity." On his enlistment papers Under Cook Cheatam was recorded as being a 21 year old Servant who had been born in VA, and who had "brown eyes, Curly hair, dark complexion [and] is 5 feet 10 inches high." He signed the enlistment papers with an "X" which was noted as "his mark".
On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. Under Cook Cheatam is believed to have been present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. He is also believed to have been present at the September 19-20, 1863, fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It is not known what part, if any, he took in the fighting around Viniard's Farm on the first afternoon, or the next morning during Longstreet's Breakthrough. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.
Under Cook Cheatam would have then served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege resulted in severe shortages of food and firewood which, together with cold, wet weather, caused much suffering, sickness, and death. On November 19, 1863, Under Cook Cheatam was mustered into Federal service as an "African Under Cook" at Chattanooga. The Army recorded his residence as Winchester, TN, and noted that he was mustered in under General Order No. 230, dated October 10, 1863, by the Headquarters of the Department of the Cumberland. Starting November 1863, Under Cook Cheatam was listed as "present" with the 15th until February 1865.
On November 25, 1863, the Confederate siege was broken by the Union Army's victorious charge up Mission Ridge, which the 15th took part in. Starting almost immediately afterwards the 15th was engaged in nearly non-stop marching and counter-marching all over Eastern TN throughout the winter of 1863/1864. By many original accounts, this was the worst period of the regiment's 3-year term of service. Poor rations, inadequate clothing and shelter, and unseasonably cold weather made these months nearly unbearable.
Starting in May 1864, the 15th participated in General William T. Sherman's famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months straight. The 15th took part in the fighting at Rocky Face Ridge, GA in early May; at the bloody Battle of Resaca, GA on May 14-15; and at the disastrous Battle of Pickett's Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church), GA on May 27, 1864, where the 15th suffered fearful casualties. The 15th also took part in the fighting at Kenesaw Mountain, GA on June 23; before Atlanta on July 22; at Jonesboro, GA on September 1; and at Lovejoy Station, GA on September 4, 1864.
After a period of rest following the capture of Atlanta in early September, the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga, TN, starting at the beginning of October 1864. This was followed by several months spent guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga, which some of the 15th's soldiers felt was the easiest duty of their war service. On February 10, 1865, most of the surviving members of Company K were mustered out of Federal service at Chattanooga, TN, upon the end of their 3-year term of service. Under Cook Cheatam was not because he had only served about half of his 3-year term. When Company K ceased to exist he was transferred to Company H until it mustered out on February 13, 1865, and the 15th ceased to exist.
Under Cook Cheatam and the other 15th soldiers who had not yet served out their terms of service were then transferred to the 24th WI Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was then listed as "Present" with the 24th at Huntsville, AL on February 28, 1865, and at Nashville, TN on April 30, 1865, which was right after the Civil War ended. In June 1865, the 24th WI was mustered out of the Army and ceased to exist. Under Cook Cheatam and the other 15th soldiers who had not yet served out their terms of service were then transferred on June 10, 1865 to I Company of the 13th WI Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment under General Order No. 21, dated June 7, 1865 from the 4th Army Corps Headquarters. In June 1865, the 13th was sent to New Orleans, Louisiana. In July 1865, the 13th was sent to TX, where it occupied several posts near the Rio Grande River. On November 24, 1865, the 13th was sent to Madison, WI, which it reached December 23, 1865. There on December 26, 1865, it was paid off and the regiment disbanded.
After the war, Robert settled in MS. The name of his first wife is not known and neither are his children. In 1877, he married his second wife, Hannah Grayson. She was born in 1847 in MS. In 1880, they were living with two of Hannah's children, Alfred and Andrew, as well as two of their children Robert (1878) and Jacob (1880). Robert worked as a farmer and Hannah as a farm hand in Washington County, MS. In 1890, they were in Burdett and 1910 in Greenville; both towns are in Washington County. Robert and Hannah also had a daughter, Lucy, in 1899. They are both listed as living in the 1910 Census, and Hannah filed a pension as his widow on October 6, 1910, which means Robert died that same year.
Sources: Genealogical data from Dee Anna Grimsrud, MLIS, CGRS; Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886); Civil War Pension Index, Roll #T288_80; 1880 Census, Roll: 668, Family History Film: 1254668, Page: 179C, Enumeration District: 093, Image: 0215; 1890 Veterans Schedule, Roll: 26, Page: 4, Enumeration District: 130; 1910 Census, Roll: T624_763, Page: 11A, Enumeration District: 0114, FHL microfilm: 1374776.