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96th Illinois Infantry
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
96th Illinois Infantry Soldier Roster - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume 5, Revised by Brigadier General J.N. Reece, Adjutant General, 1900       View Entire Book

Regimental History
Ninety-sixth Infantry. Col., Thomas E. Champion; Lieut. -Cols., Isaac L. Clark, John C. Smith; Majs., John C. Smith, George Hicks. This regiment was recruited by companies during the months of July and Aug., 1862, and was mustered into service as a regiment at Camp Fuller Sept. 6. Six companies, A, E, F, H, I and K, were from Jo Daviess county, and four, B, C, D and G, from Lake county. The mustering into one regiment of men from Lake, the northeastern county bordering Lake Michigan, and Jo Daviess the northwestern county on the banks of the Mississippi, although separated by a distance of 200 miles, was but the reuniting of old friends, who in the past had been associated in the old 1st Congressional district of the state. The union proved one of lasting harmony and good comradeship, thereby increasing the efficiency of the regiment. The month of September was spent in arming, equipping and drilling the men for the field, much proficiency being made therein. On Oct. 6, the Confederate forces under Gen. Braxton Bragg being on the march toward Louisville, Ky., and those under Gen. Kirby Smith threatening Cincinnati, Ohio, orders were received to hold the men in readiness to move on short notice. Two days later orders came to proceed at once to the defense of Cincinnati, by noon the regiment was on the cars, and at midnight on the 10th was at its destination. The regiment did not receive its baptism of blood until about a year later, when, on the right of the historic field of Chickamauga, it lost 220 of the rank and file, over 50 per cent, of the men engaged being killed, wounded or missing, but the command held the ground upon which it had fought Longstreet's veterans so gallantly and only left the line when night closed the battle. On Sept. 21 the division held Missionary ridge, where the regiment lost two companies, C and H, after a determined resistance, they having been left on picket when the army fell back that night to Chattanooga. On Oct. 27 it crossed the river into Wauhatchie valley, and recrossed on the 29th to support Gen. Hooker, in which engagement the regiment lost several men. On Nov. 24 the 96th was ordered to the extreme right on the front line, climbed up the mountain side to where it rises perpendicularly, and then flanking the enemy's works, poured a destructive fire down the rifle pits, which caused the Confederates to give way and fall back to the point near Craven's house, and finally to evacuate the mountain. On Feb. 25, 1864, it took position in the front line and was heavily engaged all day in the action at "Buzzard Roost," after which it skirmished until the 28th, when it returned to camp at Blue Springs, having lost several men during this reconnoissance. On May 3 it moved on the Atlanta campaign; was engaged at Rocky Face ridge, losing heavily; entered Dalton on the 13th; fought again at Resaca, with heavy loss; skirmished with the enemy on the 19th and drove him through Kingston, south of which place the army rested until the 24th. In the assault on Kennesaw mountain the regiment lost heavily. After the close of the Atlanta campaign the 96th followed Hood into Tennessee and was engaged in the desperate battle of Franklin. During the battle of Nashville it behaved gallantly, carried the enemy's line near Franklin pike, planted the first colors on his earthworks, and captured a battery of 12-pound Napoleons, together with prisoners far exceeding the number of men in the regiment, but the loss was quite heavy in killed and wounded. Joining in pursuit of the remnant of Hood's command to the Tennessee river, the regiment exchanged the last infantry shots with that army. On June 10, 1865, the regiment was ordered to Camp Douglas, Ill., for final pay and muster out. The casualties of the 96th were as follows: Discharged for wounds or disease, 187; killed or died of wounds or disease, 190; missing in action, 78; transferred to veteran reserve corps or other regiments, 283; deserted, 30; total, 768.

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

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