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55th Illinois Infantry
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
55th Illinois Infantry Soldier Roster - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume 3, Revised by Brigadier General J.N. Reece, Adjutant General, 1900       View Entire Book

Regimental History
Fifty-fifth Illinois Infantry. Cols., David Stuart, Oscar Malmborg; Lieut. - Cols., Oscar Malmborg, Theodore C. Chandler, Charles A. Andress; Majs., William D. Sanger, Theodore C. Chandler, James J. Hefferman, Giles F. Hand. This regiment was organized at Camp Douglas, Chicago, and was mustered into service Oct. 31, 1861. It was one of the two regiments raised by David Stuart under act of Congress, and called the "Douglas Brigade," though the two regiments never served together. The 55th Ill. was principally made up from bodies of recruits raised in Fulton, McDonough, LaSalle, Grundy, DeKalb, Kane and Winnebago counties, and its members were largely young men reared upon farms. The regiment left Camp Douglas Nov. 9, 1861, over the Chicago & Alton railroad for Alton, thence by steamboat for St. Louis, and arrived at Benton barracks Nov. 11. It received its baptism of fire at Shiloh, where upon the first day of the battle, with one other regiment, it held an important position for over 2 hours, and after being nearly surrounded and suffering terribly it retreated from point to point and took its position with its organization still complete in the last line formed in the evening near the landing. It participated in the second day's battle, acting on the right, and suffered some loss. During this terrible conflict, the first in its history, the 55th lost the heaviest of any Federal regiment in that engagement except the 9th Ill., its loss being 1 officer and 51 enlisted men killed, 9 officers and 190 men wounded, and 26 men captured. The regiment was engaged in the advance on Corinth and lost 1 killed and 8 wounded on May 17. In December it descended the Mississippi river, took part in the battle of Chickasaw bluffs, where it lost 2 killed and 4 wounded, and was also at the battle of Arkansas Post in January, losing 3 men wounded. In the spring of 1863 it proceeded with the army to the rear of Vicksburg and was under fire at Champion's hill, but suffered no loss. It participated in the early assaults on Vicksburg, and bore its full share during the siege, losing 14 killed and 32 wounded. It lost 1 man killed while scouting near the Big Black river, and after being present at the surrender of Vicksburg proceeded with Sherman's expedition to Jackson, where it lost 1 killed and 2 wounded. It made the laborious march to East Tennessee; during the night of Nov. 23 with the rest of its brigade it manned a fleet of pontoon boats in North Chickamauga creek; and in the intense darkness crossed the Tennessee and captured the enemy's pickets one of the most daring operations of the war. At the battle of Missionary ridge the regiment lost 3 wounded. It encamped successively at Bridgeport, Bellefonte and Larkinsville, during the winter, and while at the latter place, after exacting the right to elect officers, the regiment veteranized, at which time the existing field officers all failed of election and at the end of their term quit the service. The veterans were granted a 30-days' furlough and at the opening of the Atlanta campaign the regiment took its place as usual in the 2nd division of the 15th corps. It shared in the manifold labors and dangers of that famous campaign, including the movement on and battle of Jonesboro, losing 36 killed and 86 wounded, which was about one-half of its number engaged. The heaviest loss was at the assault upon Kennesaw mountain, when 14 were killed and 33 wounded. It marched the entire distance on the picnic excursion, termed the march to the sea, thence north, and at the battle of Bentonville it lost 1 man killed, 1 wounded and 6 taken prisoners. After the surrender of Johnston the regiment marched via Richmond for Washington and took part in the grand review. It was then ordered to Louisville, where it remained in camp a few weeks, and then moved to Little Rock, Ark., where it was mustered out Aug. 14, 1865. During the entire period of its service it received less than 50 recruits, hence all its casualties were from its original members. It lost actually killed in battle 108 men, and its total wounded were 339, making an aggregate of 417 struck with the missiles of war. There are no data to state the exact number of mortally wounded, though it is known that 35 died from such cause within one year after Shiloh.

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

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