Company M, First Illinois Light Artillery

Shetland Islands to America 1838

Bio-Pen Pictures

            Magnus Tait was born on the Shetland Islands north of Scotland, May 30, 1837.  His father, Michael, was born in Garth, Parish of Nesting, Shetland Islands, October 21, 1805, and died at Joliet, Illinois, October 6, 1879.  He was married November 8, 1829, to Margaret Leisk, a native of the same islands, and in 1838 he left his native land and came to America, arriving at Chicago, Illinois, July 19 of that year.  In 1848 he became a resident of Joliet, Illinois, where he was one of the first charter members of the Baptist Church and closely identified with all its interests from the first.  His wife died in Joliet, March 27, 1882, at the age of 79.  They left a family of four sons, all living.  Magnus was an infant when his parents came to America, and lived with them till twenty years of age.  He was married May 26, 1858, to Antoinette Cooley, a native of Amber, Onondaga County, New York, who was born December 7, 1837.

            August 4, 1862, he enlisted in Company M, First Illinois Light Artillery, and his company was attached to the Fourth Army Corps most of the time while in service.  At the time of enlistment he was promoted a Sergeant in charge of Gun No. 6.  He was in all the engagements in which the Fourth Corps participated.  He was in twenty-two battles and skirmishes, the heaviest being Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Resaca, and from Dalton to Atlanta.  For about 100 days his guns hardly became cold, being kept almost in one continuous engagement to Atlanta, and on the night of August 26, 1864, the day before Atlanta fell, he was taken prisoner near that city.  He was taken to Andersonville, where, and in Savannah, Millen, Blackshear, and Thomasville prisons, he was confined until the close of the war.  He, with 4,000 Union soldiers, was taken from Thomasville prison to Vicksburg, there to remain until a like number of Confederate prisoners should be brought down from Rock Island, Illinois, when they were to be exchanged.  The news of the assassination of President Lincoln reached them at Vicksburg at two o’clock the following morning.  The Confederate major who had them in charge became alarmed at the preparations that were at once made to hang him, and escaped and was never heard from.  It was lucky for him that he left just as he did, because a rope had been procured, but the excited soldiers when they reached his tent found that he had abandoned it.  This broke the cartel, or agreement between the authorities of the two governments, and the Union troops were at once shipped north to their respective homes.

            Mr. Tait returned to his home in Illinois, and in August, 1865, removed to Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, where he lived until 1885, when he came to California.  He located at Ocean Side, San Diego County, and remained there until July, 1887, when he located in Los Gatos.  Mr. Tait is a member of the Scottish Rite Knight Templar Degree, having taken the thirty-second degree in 1885, and is a charter member of the Los Gatos Blue Lodge, A. F. and A. M.  He is a member of the Oriental Order of the Palm and Shell; a member and junior Vice-Commander of E. O. C. Ord Post, No. 82, G. A. R., and a charter member of the Andersonville Survivors’ Association, organized September 22, 1879.  Mr. and Mrs. Tait have had four children, viz.:  Florence I., born April 16, 1859; Walter M., July 7, 1860; Thomas I., August 24, 1861; and Magnus C., November 16, 1862.  Walter M. died March 16, 1885.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 320
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy