This article about the 7th Illinois was written and submitted by Jay Lacey.
Since Illinois sent six regiments to the Mexican war, by courtesy the number of the regiments which took part in the war for the Union began with the number seven. A number of regiments which responded to the first call of President Lincoln for troops claimed to be the first regiment in the field, but the honor of being the first was finally accorded Col. John Cook. This unit was mustered in at Camp Yates, April, 1861 (3-month enlistment), by Captain John Pope, who by war's end had been promoted to Major General.
The 7th took great pride in the fact that it was the first organized regiment from Illinois mustered in the United States service in the war, the first to return to the capital and re-enlist as veterans (Jan '64), as well as being the only regiment in the whole army that purchased its own weapon - the Henry Repeating Rifle, out of their meager pay of $13 per month, paying $51 for each Henry, they were now armed with more than 500.
The regiment's most dazzling display was at Allatoona Pass, GA, October 1864. Four regiments of the 3rd Brigade, 2,025 troops - of which the 7th was one - were attacked by better than 3,200 Confederates of Hood's army, commanded by Gen. Samuel G. French. Union troops, under Maj. Gen. John M. Corse, repulsed four large-scale enemy charges, and as night fell, the Confederates withdrew, leaving 897+ dead & wounded on the field. Credit the Henry's (9 companies, 291 men), as the 7th expended 31,000 rounds of ammunition. General Sherman paid the regiment its highest compliment by saying after the battle: "For numbers engaged, they stood upon the bloodiest battlefield ever known upon the American continent." Mr. Bill Smith, of Lewistown, IL, an honorary member of the southern 7th IL reenacting company, owns his great-grandfather's Henry, the very one he actually used in the 7th at Allatoona Pass.
The 7th participated in the battles of Florence, AL; Chickamauga, Resaca, Rome, Allatoona Pass, and Savannah, GA; Fort Donelson, Franklin and Shiloh, TN; Bentonville, NC; and Corinth, MS, as well as participating in Sherman's "March to the Sea", and the war-ending grand review in Washington, D.C. The regiment was mustered out in July 1865 in Louisville, KY, arriving home in Springfield later that month for pay and discharge.
In 1988 a 7th Illinois reenactment company was formed in north central Illinois, acquiring the name "National Henry Rifle Co." Two years later a southern group was born; both recruit yearly. Armed with reproduction Henrys, each form quite an impenetrable firing line on any battlefield. Contact via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last update: Monday, 30-Sep-1996 22:32:22 CDT