59th Illinois Infantry

History of the Regiment

---This history was submitted by Dale R. Lutz.

The 59th Illinois Infantry Regiment was originally organized as the 9th Missouri Volunteers. It was organized at St. Louis on September 18, 1861, but was made up mainly of companies raised in Illinois, Coles County having its share. Company F was commanded from February 1, 1863, to September 20, 1864, by Captain Hamilton W. Hall of Mattoon. Most of the men of Company H were from Mattoon, Charleston, and Kansas. Henry W. Wiley and George F. Clark, both of Mattoon, served as captains during the regiment's history.

After much shift-of-command, the Missouri regiment was changed, by an order of the War Department, to the 59th Illinois, on February 12, 1862. Under Division command of Jefferson C. Davis, the 59th was at Pea Ridge on Mach 7, 1862, and fought the enemy all day. During the year, they fought as a reserve unit at Farmington, Tennessee, skirmished with the enemy at Bay Springs, Mississippi, and on September 26, arrived at Louisville, Kentucky for reassignment.

On October 1, the 74th and 75th Illinois were brigaded with the 22nd Indiana and 59th Illinois to form the 30th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, and was assigned to the 9th Division Brigadier General Robert B. Mitchell, 3rd Army, commanding. They then moved via Bardstown in pursuit of Bragg. On October 7, they met the enemy at Chaplin Hills, near Perryville, with negligible loss. The next day, they were heavily engaged, losing 113 killed and wounded out of a total of the 361 who went into battle.

They pursued the enemy, fought again at Lancaster, Kentucky, and moved on to Nashville, Tennessee on November 7, where they camped for some time. The 59th took part in the battles of Nolensville, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma, and the siege of Chattanooga.

On the 21st of October, 1863, the Army of the Cumberland was reorganized, and the 59th became a part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 4th Army Corps. On November 25, the 59th led the charge up Missionary Ridge in the Lookout Mountain campaign. The enemy was uprooted, pursued 15 miles to Ringgold, Tennessee, where he was again attacked and driven from position. On November 30, the 59th had the gruesome task of burying the dead left upon the field at Chickamauga, which battle was fought on the 19th and 20th of the previous September.

The regiment was reorganized as a veteran group at Springfield on March 19, 1864. It then returned to Cleveland, Tennessee, and later took part in the Atlanta campaign with MUCH minor action from May 3, 1864, through August of the same year. It had various engagements thereafter until the battle of Nashville began on December 15. Colonel Sydney Post of Springfield, Brigade commander, 'took the initiative in the brilliant deeds of the day'. The 59th was in the first line of the assaulting column, and planted the first colors on the enemy's works. Post's group made the assault on Overton's Hill where the 59th lost one-third of its number engaged. For galant services at Nashville, Colonel Post was brevetted Brigadier General of the United States Volunteers. On January 31, 1865, the regiment returned from Huntsville, Alabama to Nashville, after pursuit of the enemy. From Nashville to Huntsville, on to East Tennessee, back to Greenville, Tennessee, from there to Warm Springs, North Carolina, thence to Greenville, back to Nashville, and then to New Orleans - such was the route of travel taken by the 59th just before it left the service. They traveled from New Orleans to Indianola, San Antonio, and New Braunfels, Texas. On the 8th of December, 1865, the veteran marchers of the 59th were mustered out and ordered to Springfield for final payment and discharge."

Reference: Coles County in the Civil War 1861-1865, pp. 33-5. Eastern Illinois University Bulletin No. 234, April 1961, Lavern M. Hamand, General Editor. Published by Division of Regional Services; printed by Prather The Printer, Charleston, Illinois.

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