Relive Honor, Sorrow of the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Article excerpt

Byline: Diana Dretske

The Lake County Discovery Museum is hosting Illinois' largest Civil War Re-enactment today at Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda. Call (847) 968-3400 for information.

The following excerpts are from the poem, "Campaign of the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry," by William Jellison, Company E, April 12, 1864.

In traveling all the world around,

There are no soldiers to be found,

That have done more with gun or picks,

Than the Illinois boys of the Ninety-Sixth.

The news of the fall of Fort Sumter was received in Lake County on Monday, April 15, 1861. The next day, many young men enlisted amid pro-Union cheers, but it would not be until the summer of 1862 that Lake County would have its own regiment.

The 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry was formed with four companies from Lake County and six companies from Jo Davies County in the Galena area.

The most famous battle the regiment participated in was the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, Sept. 18 to 20, 1863. Many Illinois regiments joined the 96th for that battle, but in the end lost to the Confederates.

They met old Longstreet and his host,

Of whom the rebels all do boast,

On Chickamauga's battle plain,

And fought till half their men were slain.

General Rosecrans, (1819-1898) had split his Army of the Cumberland, of which the 96th was a part, and had each take widely separate routes to surround the Confederate Army south of Chattanooga, Tenn. …