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16th Illinois Infantry
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
16th 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
Sixteenth Illinois Infantry. Col., Robert F. Smith; Lieut.-Cols., Samuel Wilson, James B. Cahill, Charles D. Kerr; Majs., Samuel M. Hays, Charles Petrie. This regiment was organized and mustered into the U. S. service at Quincy, Ill, May 24, 1861, under the "Ten-Regiment Act." On June 12 it moved to Grand river as railroad guard, after which it was scattered along the line of the road on guard duty. On July 10, Col. Smith's force was attacked at Monroe Station by 1,600 mounted Confederates, but he held his position until the arrival of reinforcements, when the enemy retired. On the 16th the regiment lost 2 men killed and 2 wounded at Caldwell Station. On Aug. 20, it moved under Gen. Hurlbut to Kirksville and then in pursuit of Gen. Green, arriving at Hannywell on Sept. 1. On Sept. 10 it was ordered to St. Joseph, Mo., and on the 14th, with the 3d Ia. infantry, had a skirmish at Platte City. In the battle of New Madrid the 16th supported the siege guns, and on April 7, 1862, it was landed on the opposite side of the Mississippi, with the 10th Ill., following the retreating enemy to Tiptonville, Tenn., where several thousand prisoners, a large amount of artillery, small arms and ammunition were captured. The regiment also participated in the siege of Corinth. On Sept. 15 it arrived at Nashville after a 17 days' march with continual guerrilla fighting loss, 1 killed and 5 wounded. It then garrisoned Edgefield, Tenn., guarding the railroad bridge. On Nov. 5 the garrison was attacked by Confederate Gen. Morgan, who was repulsed, leaving a number dead upon the field, the loss in the 16th being 1 killed and 5 wounded. From Dec. 20 to 31, 1863, the regiment reenlisted as veterans, and on New Year's day, 1864, left for Illinois on a furlough of 30 days. On May 5 it moved with Sherman's army on the Atlanta campaign ; was in the advance of its division at Buzzard Roost, where a sharp fight was kept up for one day, in which the regiment lost 18 killed and wounded. Withdrawing from the front of Buzzard Roost with the 14th and 15th corps, the latter made a night march through Snake Creek gap, fighting the battle of Resaca and flanking the Confederates from Dalton. From Resaca the regiment moved with its division, which was sent by Gen. Sherman to capture Rome, an important Confederate city, and it was taken after a sharp fight, in which the 16th sustained no loss. From Rome the regiment moved to Lost mountain; thence to Kennesaw mountain, where for 4 days it lay under the fierce cannonade of 100 guns on that impregnable natural fortress, and it was afterward the reserve line of the charging column, when in a few minutes the army lost 3,000 men, the loss of the regiment being some 10 or 15. Thence on to the Chattahoochee river, which the 16th was the first to cross, driving back the heavy picket line of the enemy, and losing over 20 men. It participated in the battle of Peachtree creek, losing a number by wounds and capture, marching into the line of the enemy while the regiment was making a night reconnoissance to the front. After the investment of Atlanta the regiment held a position on the front line and for 30 days was constantly engaged in skirmish firing. About Aug. 25 it withdrew from the front, swung round the city to the west, and was in the thickest of the fight at Jonesboro. In the famous charge of the 14th army corps at that place, in which Hardee's line was broken, a large portion of it captured, and Atlanta won, the 16th charged with fixed bayonets and empty guns. Owing to a depression of ground over which it charged, its loss was less than 30, while regiments to the right and left lost twice that number. The regiment participated in the famous march through Georgia to the sea, and being on the most advanced post at the evacuation of Savannah, it had the honor of being the representative regiment of the 14th army corps to take formal possession of the city. It marched north through the Carolinas during February and March, 1865, assisting in the capture of Columbia and Fayetteville, and was in the fierce fight at Averasboro, where it lost 15 or 20 in killed and wounded. At the battle of Bentonville the division of which the 16th was a part withstood for 5 hours during the first day's battle, the six times repeated onslaught of Johnston's entire army. The regiment, being in the front line, while repelling a charge saw the Confederates, who had been successful at another point, swing around it and drive the supporting regiments from their works and into the swamp. Having repelled the assault in front, the 16th climbed over the temporary breastworks and opened fire on what five minutes before had been its rear. After a few shots, with the assistance of the 14th Mich., it charged the Confederate line and captured some 800 prisoners. The second day of the battle, in conjunction with the 14th Mich., through a mistaken order of the colonel of the latter, a charge was made into the center of the Confederate forces and for over a quarter of an hour the regiment was under as murderous a front and flank fire as ever rained on troops. In this brief space of time a third of the regiment fell, having less than 300 in line on going into the fight. Co. A, with 27 men, lost 10, 7 of whom died on the field or soon after. The regiment marched with Sherman's army to Richmond and Washington, participated in the grand review at the latter place, after which it proceeded to Louisville, Ky., where it was mustered out on July 8, after a term of service of four years and three months, and a week later it arrived at Springfield, Ill., where it received its final pay and discharge papers.

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

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