13th Illinois Infantry

13th Illinois Infantry

The THIRTEENTH REGIMENT ILLINOIS INFANTRY was one of the regiments organized under the act known as the Ten Regiment Bill. It was composed of companies as follows: “I” from Cook county, “H”, from Kane county, “K”, from Du Page county, “E” and “F” from DeKalb county, “A” and “C” from Lee county, “B” and “G” from Whiteside county, and “D” from Rock Island county. John B. Wyman of Amboy, was elected Colonel, B. F. Parks of Aurora, Lieutenant Colonel, and A. B. Gorges of Dixon, Major. The Regiment was mustered into the State service on the 21st day of April and into the United States service on the 24th of May 1861; for three years or during the war, by Captain John Pope, of the Regular Army, at Camp Dement, Dixon, Illinois. The Thirteenth was the first Regiment organized from the then Second Congressional District of the State, and was composed of as good citizens as Northern Illinois contained, many that enlisted as privates rising to field officers in later regiments. Its Colonel, John B. Wyman, organized and commanded the “Chicago Light Guards” the first Crack Corps the Garden City ever had, and he soon brought the Thirteenth to a degree of proficiency in drill and soldierly deportment that was never excelled by any regiment with which it was afterwards associated. On the 16th of June it was ordered to Caseyville, Ill., 10 miles east of St. Louis, and on the 5th day of July it passed through St. Louis to Rolla, Mo., where it remained until the spring of 1862. While stationed at Rolla it was engaged in guarding supply trains to and from General Lyon’s army, in suppressing guerrilla bands in that part of the State, and was a part of General Fremont’s force that went to Springfield, Missouri, in the fall of 1861 after General Price, when the Regiment was well and favorably known as “Fremont’s Grey Hounds”, a name given to them by General Fremont himself, on the evening the Regiment joined his army at Bolivar, in splendid shape, after a day’s march of 42 miles. In 1862 it joined General Curtis’ army at Pea Ridge, 250 miles southwest of Rolla, and was with General Curtis in his memorable march from Pea Ridge to Helena, Arkansas, on the Mississippi river. It was part of General Sherman’s army in his attack upon Chickasaw Bayou, and from that time on became a part of the noted Fifteenth Army Corps, commanded so long by General Sherman in person. In the first day’s assault at Chickasaw Bayou, Colonel Wyman was killed. The day following, it was a part of General F. P. Blair’s Brigade that distinguished itself by approaching nearer to the rebel works than any other command in that part of the field. The losses to the Regiment on that day were 183 killed and wounded. It was present at the capture of Arkansas Post, after which it returned to Young’s Point opposite Vicksburg. While there, General Steele’s Division, of which the Thirteenth was a part, made a very successful raid to Greenville, Miss., and up Dear Creek, driving the rebels out that region, and destroying an immense quantity of corn intended for the rebel garrison at Vicksburg. It was part of General Grant’s army that crossed the Mississippi at Grand Gulf below Vicksburg, and participated in a part of the battles in the rear of Vicksburg and in the capture of Jackson, and was with General Sherman’s Corps on the right of the army during the siege of Vicksburg. It was with General Steele’s Division in the fruitless assault on the rebel works on the 2d day of May, where it suffered severely. Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th day of July 1863; and on that same night at 12 o’clock the Regiment started with General Sherman after Joe Johnston. It was present the second time at the capture of Jackson, Miss., and moved still further east to Brandon, where the pursuit of Joe Johnston ended, and with the remainder of the command returned to Black River and went into camp. When General Sherman was ordered to join General Grant at Chattanooga with his Corps, of which this Regiment was still a part, it went from Vicksburg to Memphis by boat, and from there to Chattanooga by land. The march from Memphis to Chattanooga was a continuous fight, as the rebels tried every way in their power to prevent Sherman from joining Grant’s army. It was with General Osterhaus’ Division, temporarily attached to General Hooker’s command at the battle of Missionary Ridge, where the Regiment captured 2500 prisoners, and followed the retreating forces to Rossville, where the enemy was overtaken and a severe skirmish ensued; from there the enemy was driven to Ringgold Gap, where they massed their batteries to protect their retreat. Osterhaus’ Division formed in line of battle, the 13th being directly in front of the Gap and the masked batteries. It being impossible to take the Gap by a charge, the Division was withdrawn and again advanced up the side of the mountain to the left of the Gap, where it encountered the forces of General Pat Claybourne, strongly entrenched at the top of the mountain. Here the Regiment and Division held their ground till their ammunition gave out, and they were finally relieved at the third attempt by the 14th Army Corps. They held this trying position for about two hours, the greater portion of the time being without ammunition, depending wholly for their safety upon “fixed bayonets” and their determination never to retreat. The losses in this battle were 67. Among the killed were Major Bushnell, Captain Blanchard and Color Bearer Riley; the latter, when shot through the breast, fell in such manner as to be rolled up in the flag, staining it with his heart’s blood. For its conduct in the battles in and around Missionary Ridge, the Regiment received the following complimentary notice in Gen. Hooker’s report, vol. 8, page 215, Rebellion Record: “At the same time the enemy kept his artillery busily at work. Their skirmishers were driven in, and, as we learned the position of the battery, the Thirteenth Illinois Regiment, from the right of Wood’s line, was thrown forward to seize some houses from which their gunners could be picked off by our men. These were heroically taken and held by that brave Regiment. Apprehensive that he might lose his artillery, the enemy advanced with superior force on our skirmishers, and they fell back behind Wood’s line, when that excellent officer opened on the rebels and drove them into the gorge, they leaving at they fled their dead and wounded on the ground. Our skirmishers at once reoccupied their line, the Thirteenth Illinois all the time maintaining its position with resolution and obstinacy”. The time of this Regiment being so near out they were not taken on the march to the sea, but left to guard the communications in the rear. On the 18th of June 1864, the Regiment was mustered out at Springfield, Ill., having served three years and two months.


Histories of Illinois Civil War Regiments and Units

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