The Sixteenth Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized and mustered into United States' service at Quincy, Ill., under the "Ten Regiment Act," on the 24th day of May, 1861. It was mustered in by Captain T. G. Pitcher, U.S.A.
June 12, 1861, moved to Grand River as railroad guard; after which the Regiment was scattered along the line of the road as guard. July 10, Colonel Smith's force was attacked at Monroe Station by 1,600 mounted Rebels, but held his position until the arrival of reinforcements, when the enemy retired. On the 16th, lost two men wounded at Caldwell Station. August 20, regiment moved under General Hurlbut to Kirksville, and in pursuit of General Green, arriving at Hannywell on September 1.
September 10, ordered to St. Joseph, Mo. On 14th, together with the Third Iowa Infantry, has a skirmish at Platte City. 17th, returned to St. Joseph.
January 27th, ordered to Bird's Point, Mo. March 3, ordered to New Madrid, where we were attached to the Army of Mississippi, Second Brigade, Colonel James D. Morgan, First Division, Brigadier General E. A. Paine.
On the evening of the 12th of March the Tenth and Sixteenth Illinois Volunteers were thrown forward and erected a line of earthworks, mounting four heavy guns, within half a mile of the enemy's works.
March 13, the battle of New Madrid was fought, the Sixteenth supporting the siege guns.
April 7th, were landed on the opposite side of the Mississippi, with the Tenth Illinois, and followed the retreating army to Tiptonville, Tenn., where we captured 5,000 prisoners, a large amount of artillery, small arms and ammunition. April 9th, returned to New Madrid; 13th, embarked for Osceola, Ark.; 17th, embarked for Hamburg, Tenn., where we arrived 22nd. Participated in the siege of Corinth. After the evacuation, pursued the retreating army to Booneville; June 12th, returned and camped at Big Springs.
July 20, moved to Tuscumbia; 29th, crossed the Tennessee at Florence.
September 15, arrived at Nashville, after a seventeen days' march, with continual guerrilla fighting - loss, one killed and five wounded.
Garrisoned Edgefield, Tenn., guarding railroad bridge. November 5, garrison was attacked by Rebel General Morgan, who was repulsed, leaving many dead upon the field. Our loss, one killed and five wounded.
The regiment remained at Edgefield until the middle of July, 1863, when it broke camp and marched to Murfreesboro, where it remained one month; thence it marched to Columbia, Tennessee; thence to Athens, Huntsville and Stevenson, Alabama, camping a few days at the latter place, when it made a forced march to Bridgeport, where with the brigade, it guarded ordnance stores and pontoon bridge against a threatened attack. The battle of Chickamauga having just been fought, Bragg was threatening the rear of Rosecran's army.
In October a march was made up the Sequatchie valley, as far as Anderson's Gap, a distance of forty miles.
The Sixteenth had been in the First Brigade, First Division, Army of the Cumberland. At Anderson's Gap orderes were received transferring it and the entire brigade to First Brigade, Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps. The brigade was commanded by General Morgan, the Division by General Jeff C. Davis, and the corps by Palmer. The regiment remained in this brigade, division and corps until the close of the war. From Anderson's Gap the regiment marched to Waldron's Bridge, and for a few weeks guarded a line of transportation on the Tennessee River; thence it moved to Kelly's Ferry, where it encamped until January, 1864, where it was engaged in the arduous duty of unloading from boats the rations and ammunition sent forward to the enemy which lay at Chattanooga, sixty miles above.
December 20 to 31, the regiment re-enlisted as veterans, and on New Years Day, 1864, left for Illinois on a furlough of thirty days. Returning, marched to Rossville, Georgia, the latter part of February; went into camp with the rest of brigade and division.
Moved with Sherman's Army on the Atlanta campaign; was in advance division at Buzzard Roost, where a sharp fight was kept up for one day in which the regiment lost 18 killed and wounded; withdrawing from Buzzard Roost with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth corps, the latter under the command of General Logan, made a night march, fighting the battle of Resaca and flanking the rebels from Dalton. From Resaca the regiment moved with the division which was sent by steamer to capture Rome, an important rebel city which was taken after a fight, in which the Sixteenth sustained no loss. From Rome the regiment moved to Lost Mountain, thence to Kenesaw Mountain, where for a time it lay under the fierce cannonade of a hundred guns on that natural fortress; was afterwards reserve line of the charging corps on June 27, when in a few minutes the army lost 3,000 men; the loss of the regiment was 10 or 15. Thence on to the Chattahootchee river, where the Sixteenth was the first to cross, driving back the heavy picket line of the enemy, losing over 20 men. It participated in the battle Peach Tree Creek, losing a number by wounds and prisoners by marching into the enemy while the regiment was making a night reconnoitre.
After the investment of Atlanta, the regiment held a position on the front and for thirty days was constantly engaged in skirmish firing. Then it withdrew from the front and swung around the city to the west. June 30th was in the thickest of the fight at Jonesboro. In the famous Atlanta campaign, the Fourteenth Army Corps at that place, in which Hardee's force was broken, a large portion of it captured, and Atlanta won, the Sixteenth charged with fixed bayonets and empty guns. Owing to the ground over which the regiment charged its loss was less than regiments to the right and left which lost twice the number.
After the capture of Atlanta, the regiment went into camp nearly a month. While Hood was making his raid to the rear, the regiment was sent back to Chattanooga, Huntsville and as far as Athens. Hood having moved further west changed the plans of Sherman, the regiment returned to Atlanta. Here the corps was taken from the Army of the Cumberland, and, with the Twelfth Corps, became the Army of Georgia. The regiment participated in the famous march through Georgia to the sea. Being on the most advanced post at the evacuation of Savannah, it had the honor of being the representative regiment of the Fourteenth Army to take formal possession of the city. Marched north during February and March, 1865; assisted in the capture of Columbus and Fayetteville; was in fierce fight at Averysboro, where, during the afternoon of March 16, the regiment lost 15 or 20 killed and wounded, one of whom was Captain White, of Company A, who was commanding the force, and who fell, mortally wounded, while leading a charge across the field.
On the 19th, 20th and 21st of March, at the battle of Bentonville, the division of which the Sixteenth was a part, withstood for five hours, during the first day's battle, the six times repeated onslaught of Johnson's entire army. The Sixteenth being in the front line, while repelling a charge saw the rebels, who had been successful at another point, swing around it, and drive the supporting regiment from their works and into the swamp. Having repelled the assault in front, the Sixteenth climbed over the temporary breastworks and opened fire on what five minutes before had been its rear. After a few shots, with the assistance of the Fourteenth Michoigan, charged the rebel line, capturing some 800. The second day of the battle the Sixteenth, in conjunction with the Fourteenth Michigan, through a mistake order of the colonel of the latter, made a charge into the center of the rebel forces, and for over a quarter of an hour was under as murderous a front and flank fire as ever rained on troops. In this brief space of time a third of the regiment fell, having less than 300 in line in going into the fight, Company A, with twenty-seven men, lost ten, seven of whom died on the field, or soon after. This was the last battle of the war the Sixteenth was engaged in, but it was the most terrible of them all.
After this battle the Sixteenth was marched to Goldsboro, where it encamped a month; thence to Raleigh and Durham Station, where Johnson surrendered his army to Sherman. Marched with Sherman's Army to Richmond and Washington; participated in the grand review at the latter place May 24, 1865, after which the regiment proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where it was mustered out on the 8th of July, after a term of service of four years and three months, and a week later it arrived in Springfield, Illinois, where it received its final pay and discharge papers.