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19th Illinois Infantry
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
19th Illinois Infantry Soldier Roster - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume 2, Revised by Brigadier General J.N. Reece, Adjutant General, 1900       View Entire Book

Regimental History
Nineteenth Illinois Infantry. Cols., John B. Turchin, Joseph R. Scott; Lieut.-Cols., Joseph R. Scott, Alexander W. Raffen ; Majs., Frederick Harding, James B. Guthrie. The act of the legislature passed May 2, 1861, authorizing the acceptance for state service of ten regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry and one battalion of light artillery, provided that one of such regiments might be raised out of volunteer companies then at Springfield, as the regiment from the state at large, and one regiment from each of the nine Congressional districts. That regiment from the state at large, consisting then of only four Chicago companies, was mustered into the state service May 4, 1861, at Camp Yates, and on June 3 was ordered to Chicago, becoming the nucleus of a regiment, which was filled up to its quota and mustered into the U. S. service for three years on June 17, 1861, as the 19th Ill. infantry. This date of muster did not indicate that the regiment was one of the first six organized under the act of April 25, 1861, yet it embraced four original companies that tendered their services to the state and were accepted far earlier than many other companies that belonged to the original six regiments. Thus the "Chicago Highland Guards" was an organized company in the state service, dating its organization back to 1855. It tendered its services to the governor on Jan. 14, 1861, three months before Fort Sumter was fired upon. It was accepted on April 21 and on the 23d was ordered to Springfield. The "Chicago Light Infantry," Cos. A and B, "Chicago Zouaves," organized in March, 1861, before the call of the president, tendered their services to the governor and on April 21, 1861, formed a part of the expedition under Brig.-Gen. R. K. Swift, to move by rail to Cairo, and occupy that important strategic point as a future basis of operations against the seceding states. Of these last companies Co. A was left to guard the Big Muddy bridge, a very important point on the Illinois Central railroad, and was the first company on actual guard duty in the state. The other two companies went to Cairo, where their presence with other companies of that expedition was very important at that early time in keeping down the spirit of Southern sympathizers, in preventing the landing of Southern militia in Illinois and in stopping transportation of arms and munitions on steamers on the Mississippi river from points above Cairo to the points below. So that, while these four Chicago companies were doing actual service the first six regiments were not even in their embryo organizations. Col. Turchin having been a colonel of staff in the Russian guards, paid particular attention at the start to the drill and discipline of the regiment, and helped by several officers and sergeants who belonged to the original company of Ellsworth Zouaves, utilized to the utmost the first two weeks in Camp Long to make the regiment as efficient as possible for the service before it. He pursued his endeavors in that respect every time the regiment was not on the march and finally succeeded in making the 19th Ill. one of the best drilled regiments in the Western armies. On the evening of July 13 it arrived at Quincy, and on the 14th received orders from Gen. Hurlbut to relieve the 21st Ill. posted on the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad from Quincy to Palmyra and between Palmyra and Hannibal. During a two weeks' stay in that locality, the regiment, besides guarding the important bridges on the railroad, made several expeditions to different points in the neighborhood, chased newly-organized Confederate companies out of various plantations, destroyed their barracks and provisions, obliged the citizens to give pledges not to support any more such companies, encouraged formations of home guards companies at Palmyra and Newark, suppressed the secessionists and encouraged the Unionists. Although the service of the regiment was varied and useful and covered a wide scope of country in its travels, its first real participation in a pitched engagement was at the battle of Stone's river. But there it showed its pluck and daring, performing an act of heroism which alone should make the name of the regiment shine in history. At a critical time, in order to check the Confederates, the regiment, occupying the cedars, not only remained there while a new line of Rousseau's troops were forming, but boldly advanced against the Confederate line and remained for over half an hour pressing it in front and on the flanks. The regiment sustained a heavy loss in officers and men, being at one time entirely surrounded by the enemy, but fought its way out over large numbers of Confederate dead in its heroic struggle to join the main line. But it helped Rousseau to form a new intermediate line, and then, with the whole of Negley's division, fell back to a designated position on the high ground where Rousseau's troops and reserves were afterward formed, and where the Confederate army was definitely stopped and the fortune of the battle turned. On Jan. 2 Breckenridge impetuously attacked the Union left, and routing Price's and Grider's brigades of Van Cleve's division, drove them pell-mell from the heights to the river and across it, when most of the regiments of Miller's and Stanley's brigades of Negley's division, the 19th Ill. leading, rushed without orders to the river and checked the enemy. Then the regiment crossed the river, reformed on the opposite side and charged on a Confederate battery, eagerly followed by other troops, which drove the Confederates back to their position, captured 4 guns and a Confederate flag, and defeated the plan of Bragg to break the Federal left. In this brilliant movement the regiment played a most conspicuous and honorable part, but again lost heavily in officers and men. During the three days of the Stone's river battle, the regiment lost 1 officer and 13 men killed, and 7 officers and 88 men wounded and missing. During the Tullahoma campaign it did its full duty, on Sept 8 it crossed the Tennessee river on the Chattanooga campaign, and on the 9th participated in a spirited engagement with the Confederates at Davis' cross-roads. It also participated in the battle of Chickamauga, where it did its fullest duty, with other as brave and patriotic commands as itself, performing acts of bravery and devotion to the flag unsurpassed in any battle of modern warfare. The 19th fought until night of the second day and then withdrew in the dark, its loss in the battle having been very great. In the battle of Missionary ridge, when the signal was given and the troops cleared the open space and reached the rifle-pits of the enemy at the base of the ridge, the 19th Ill. did not halt at the pits, but leaped over them and started to ascend the steep slope ahead of others. It participated in the battle of Resaca, and in the movements toward Kingston and beyond the Etowah river as far as Burnt Hickory, from which place the regiment was sent to Acworth, Ga. On June 8 it started to Chicago, arriving there on June 17, and on July 9, 1864, was mustered out of service. This regiment left Chicago on July 12, 1861, nearly 1,000 strong, received during its service a large number of recruits, and was mustered out with less than 350 men.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 3

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