The Ninety-first Infantry Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in August 1862, by Colonel Henry M. Day, and was mustered in on the 8th day of September, 1862.
Left Camp Butler October 1st for the front, and arrived at Shepherdsville, Ky., October 7th, 1862.
From October 8th to December 27th the Regiment was scouting through Kentucky after Morgan, and guarding the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
On the morning of December 27th, 1862, the rebel General John Morgan appeared in force at Elizabethtown. Ky., where the Ninety-first was then stationed, being under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Harry S. Smith. Three companies were detached, guarding the railroad elsewhere, and these had been obliged to surrender the day before. After a preliminary correspondence, each commander demanding a surrender by the other, at 1:30 P. M., the battle commenced by Morgan's batteries opening upon us. We were then using the old altered flint lock muskets, an inferior gun, and our ammunition being exhausted, a surrender was agreed upon, and the Regiment paroled. Our loss in killed was seven, and several wounded, some of whom died of their wounds. The rebel loss in killed and wounded exceeded 200.
On the 28th of December, 1862, the Regiment scattered and took the route step for Louisville, Ky., where all the well men took transportation, by O. & M. railroad, for St. Louis, Mo. Only seven men reached St. Louis, and reported at Benton Barracks on January 1,1863, the remainder having abandoned the train at points along the line in Illinois, and made their way home, except a few that fell by the wayside. The officers most all got as far as East St. Louis, where they took trains for the north and home.
February 28th, 1863, about two-thirds of the Regiment answered at roll-call at Benton Barracks, Mo., and mustered for six months pay. From February 28th until June 5th, 1863, we made headquarters at Benton Barracks, but a few never reported back to the command, and stand today branded as deserters.
June 5th, 1863, the Regiment was exchanged, and newly armed and equipped for the fray. The Regiment went at once into active training and drill until July 8th, 1863, when the Regiment was paid four months pay, and marched aboard the steamboat Nebraska, and, in company with the Twenty-ninth Illinois, proceeded down the Mississippi, and arrived at Vicksburg, Miss., at 7 P. M. on the 15th day of July, 1863, and was assigned to a position formerly occupied by Grant's right wing. Here the Regiment lost heavily in effective men, caused by poisoned water, the distillation of the remains of the fallen in the siege of Vicksburg.
Left Vicksburg July 24th; arrived at Port Hudson on the 25th day of July. While here the Regiment made itself useful in scouting the surrounding country until the 13th of August, 1863, when the Regiment was ordered to New Orleans, La.
The Regiment remained at New Orleans, La., until September 5th, 1863, when the Second Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, (which included the Ninety-first Illinois,) under command of Major General Herron, took steamers up the river, landing at Morganzia Bend on the 6th of September, 1863.
On the morning of the 7th, the Ninety-first Illinois, Ninety-fourth Illinois, Twentieth Wisconsin, and a battalion of the Second Illinois Cavalry, with two 12-pound cannons, started west for the Atchafalaya River. About sundown the Brigade had a fight with the enemy, which resulted in the enemy holding their ground and our Brigade falling back six miles.
On the 8th of September we again advanced, driving the enemy across the river, with but little loss to us, but a number of the enemy were killed, and about 200 taken prisoners which were kindly cared for by the Second Illinois Cavalry, into whose custody they were given.
On the 9th of September, the Ninety-first Illinois fell back to the Mississippi River, and on the 10th of September took possession of Morganzia, La., where we remained until October 10th, 1863, when we started for New Orleans, La., arriving there on the 11th of October, when we were armed with Enfield rifles, and were assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, General Vandever commanding. From this time until the 23d day of October, 1863, the Regiment was on duty as patrols, at which time our Division started for Texas, via Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, arriving at Point Isabell, Texas, on the 3d day of November, 1863.
November 6th, started for Brownsville, Texas, skirmishing all the way with the enemy, under command of the rebel General Bee, and landed at Fort Brown, Brownsville, Texas, on the 9th day of November, 1863, and went into winter quarters where we remained until December 31,1863, when the Regiment made its famous raid on Salt Lake, 90 miles out in the enemy’s country, capturing a lake of salt two miles square, a few hundred horses, mules and cattle, which were promptly confiscated for the good of the command. The lake we left behind, for the use of future generations.
January 9,1864, arrived safely back on the Rio Grande, after a march of over 260 miles, without the loss of a man. Here the Regiment remained doing frontier duty until the 28th day of July, when it left Brownsville, and on the 30th day of July, 1864, arrived at Brazos de Santiago, Tex., and was here left to do duty as a garrison of the place until the 11th day of September, 1864, when the Regiment had quite a fight with the rebels near Bagdad, on north side of Rio Grande River, and it was said at the time a squadron of French troops forded the Rio Grande to help the rebels, but all to no use, for they were driven back and over the “old battle field of Palo Alto" of 1846. Rebel loss, 20 killed and left on the field. Our loss, two wounded.
On the 24th day of December, broke camp and took steamer for New Orleans, La., arrived on the 20th day of December, 1861, and was quartered in the "Alabama Press" and did provost duty here until February 21,1865, when the Regiment was given transportation on board the "Katie Dale." We landed at Mobile Point, Ala., where we remained until the advance on Mobile.
On the 17th day of March 1865, at 7 A. M., the Ninety-first Illinois in the advance, marched, the Thirteenth Army Corps, General Gordon Granger commanding, through swamps, building corduroy and wading creeks and swimming rivers,
On the 27th of March. 1865, met the enemy in force. The First and Third Divisions, Thirteenth Army Corps, the Ninety-first Illinois in the advance in double column at half distance, moved out to the attack on the double-quick, the enemy retreating within its stronghold, Spanish Fort and Blakely, the key to Mobile. Here the enemy was at home. The battle opened and after a siege of 14 days, Spanish Fort surrendered on the 9th day of April, 1865, at one o clock A. M. At 8 o'clock the Brigade moved 10 miles around to and in the rear of Blakely and was just in time to be there at its capture on the 9th at sundown. Throughout this siege the Ninety-first took a very active part, and the fall of these strongholds resulted in the surrender of Mobile to our Division on the 12th of April, the surrender being made by the Mayor of the City. General Hardee, in command of the rear guard of the enemy’s forces, lingered behind attempting to get away with the stores, but the Second Brigade,Third Division under command of H. M. Day, Colonel Ninety-first Illinois, the Ninety-first in advance, took the railroad north, and when near Whistler, on Eight Mile Creek, the Ninety-first came upon the rear guard. Companies H, C, B, F, D and A, of the Ninety-first, were deployed as skirmishers under command of Captain Joseph A. Wells and Captain A. S. Stover, who put the enemy to rout after a running fight of three miles. This was the last fight east of the Mississippi. The Ninety-first proceeded on its march after the enemy until it reached the Tombigbee River near Nanahubba Bluffs, where it went into quarters and began building Fort Granger until the 9th day of May, when received the news of the surrender of Dick Taylor, broke camp and went aboard of the rebel steam and gunboats as they then were moved at the bank under the guns of Fort Granger, and down the river for Mobile, where we remained until July 12, when the Regiment was mustered out, and on the same day started for home, where it arrived on the 22d day of July, 1865, and where it received final pay and discharge on the 28th of July, 1865, and on the 29th, the Regiment disbanded and as citizens once more betook themselves for home, there to be received by those they left behind them.
91st Illinois Infantry
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