The Twenty-Sixth Infantry was mustered into United States service with seven companies, at Camp Butler, Ill., August 31, 1861, and was ordered to Quincy, Ill., for the protection of that place. Not having been armed, the Regiment did guard duty with hickory clubs. During the autumn the Regiment did guard duty on the Hannibal and St. Jo. R.R., and was armed with old English Tower muskets,-Colonel John Mason Loomis commanding post at Hannibal. Prior to January 1, 1862, three more Companies were raised, completing the organization. February 19, 1862, left Hannibal, Mo., for the south, stopping at Commerce, where the Regiment was assigned to Brigadier General J. B. Plummer's Brigade, Brigadier General Schuyler Hamilton's Division, Major General John Pope's Corps. Arrived at New Madrid March 3, and were engaged in action there. Marched to Point Pleasant, and arriving on the 6th, engaged the rebel gun-boats with sharp-shooters, and prevented the landing of the enemy. Marched to intercept the flying enemy from Island No. 10, and assisted in capturing many prisoners. After remaining some time at New Madrid, joined an expedition against Fort Pillow. Returning, proceeded up the Ohio and Tennessee rivers to Hamburg Landing. Took part in the siege of Corinth. May 8 and 9 were engaged at Farmington, the Regiment losing five killed and thirty wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Charles J. Tinkham was among the wounded. Colonel Loomis commanded Brigade, and General Stanley the Division. May 28, engaged the enemy one mile from Corinth, the Regiment losing four killed and twenty-five wounded. Major Gilmore was wounded. Company G, of the Twenty-sixth, was the first to enter Corinth, on evacuation by enemy. Engaged in pursuit to Booneville, and returned to Clear Creek, four miles from Corinth. June 23, ordered to Danville, Miss., where we remained till August 18, 1862, at which time joined Brigade commanded by Colonel R. C. Murphy, Eighth Wisconsin, and marched for Tuscumbia. Arrived 21st. September 8th, with Forty-seventh and Twenty-sixth, Lieutenant Colonel Tinkham commanding, marched to Clear Creek. September 18, marched for Iuka. 19th, were engaged with the enemy, in a Brigade commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Mower, of the Eleventh Missouri. Enemy evacuating in the night, we joined in pursuit, arriving at Corinth October 3, and participating in the battle of Corinth. Ten days afterward arrived again at Corinth, where we stayed until November 2. Marched, via Grand Junction, Holly Springs and Lumkin's Mill, toward Tallahatchie river, the enemy being fortified on south side of river. Regiment was here detailed to guard a commissary train to Hudsonville,-during the trip losing two men killed and two wounded by guerrillas. Ordered to Holly Springs for guard duty; thence to Oxford, Miss., where we remained until December 20. Ordered to Holly Springs to prevent the capture of that place. On 21st reached that place, enemy having fled. Remained here during the year, Colonel Loomis commanding the post, and Lieutenant Colonel Gilmore as chief of outposts.
In the beginning of the year 1863 the post at Holly Springs was broken up, and the army fell back to Lagrange, Tenn., where the Regiment was assigned to duty as provost guard,-Colonel Loomis commanding the post. Here it remained until March 8.
March 3 the Regiment was brigaded with the Nintieth Illinois, Twelfth and One Hundredth Indiana,-Colonel Loomis commanding. March 8 the Brigade marched from Lagrange to Collierville, Tenn., where they remained three months, engaged in fortifying the place, and defending the railroad against guerrillas and bushwackers. June 7 left Collierville for Memphis. The following day they embarked for Haines' Bluff. The Regiment subsequently went into camp at Oak Ridge, where it remained until after the fall of Vicksburg. On the afternoon of July 4 started in pursuit of the retreating forces of General Johnson. The siege of Jackson was marked by severe skirmishing, in one of which Captain James A. Dugger, of Company C, was instantly killed, by a round shot through the breast, and a number of men were killed and wounded. About the 22d of July began the march back to Vicksburg, and when the troops crossed Black River they went into camp for the summer. September 28 the encampment was broken up, and the Regiment marched into Vicksburg, and there embarked for Memphis, where it arrived on the 7th of October. Here a few days were given for the purpose of outfitting the men, preparatory for the long march across the country from Memphis to Chattanooga, to relieve the besieged Army of the Cumberland. The march began at 8 A.M., October 11. Arrived at Bridgeport November 15, and, on the 24th and 25th, took an active part in the battle of Mission Ridge, losing, in killed and wounded, one hundred and one officers and men. Among the officers severely wounded were Lieutenant Colonel Gilmore, Captain James P. Davis, Company B; Adjutant Edward A. Tucker and Lieutenant William Polk, Company B. The next morning, started before daylight in pursuit of the defeated and flying enemy; followed them to Ringgold, Georgia; burnt the bridges and destroyed the railroad; then turned to make the march of two hundred miles, without supplies, cooking utensils, camp equipage or change of clothing, to the relief of General Burnside, at Knoxville. Returned to Bridgeport in the latter part of December; were re-clothed, paid off, and marched to Scottsboro, Alabama, and went into winter quarters.
January 1, 1864, there were five hundred and fifteen men present for duty, of whom four hundred and sixty-three re-enlisted as veterans. Of sixty-one men present in Company K, sixty re-enlisted.
January 12, started home on veteran furlough. At the expiration of furlough, returned to the field, with ranks well filled with recruits. Arrived at old camp at Scottsboro, March 3, and remained there until May 1, when it started on the great Atlanta campaign. The Regiment was actively engaged in all the marches, skirmishes and battles which finally resulted in the capture of Atlanta. On the 3d of August a detail of nine hundred men was made from the Division, to charge the enemy's skirmish line. The charge was to be made over an old field covered with high grass, a distance of about four hundred yards. When the signal was given, the men started on a keen run for the rebel works. Private John S. Wilson, of Company D, Twenty-sixth Illinois,-a stout, active fellow,-out-ran the rest, and suddenly found himself alone in front of a rebel pit, which had been concealed by the tall grass, filled with seventeen men and a commissioned officer. He drew up his musket, and told them to "fight or run, and that d--d quick". All surrendered, except the officer, who started to run, and he shot him. It was laughable to see "Buck", as he was called, marching back with his seventeen prisoners. By order of General Logan, he retained the officer's sword, and a fine Whitney rifle, found in the pit, and now has them at home, as mementos of his gallantry. After the fall of Atlanta, most of the old officers were mustered out at the expiration of their term of service. Only two of the original officers remained, one of whom, Captain Ira J. Bloomfield, Company K, was made Colonel of the Regiment. About the same time the Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, was broken up, and the Regiment was transferred to the First Division of the same Corps, with which it remained until the close of the war.
The Regiment did some hard marching, following Hood up towards Chattanooga, and off into northern Alabama; then returned to Atlanta. Were paid and re-clothed, preparatory to "marching through Georgia".
The Twenty-sixth was engaged in the action of Griswoldville, siege of Savannah, and capture of Fort McAllister. A short time after the fall of Savannah the Regiment was ordered to Beaufort, S.C., and remained on duty there and at Port Royal Ferry until the commencement of the northward march through the Carolinas. Was among the first Regiments into Columbia, and were hotly engaged in the battle of Bentonville. Here the Regiment was ordered to carry the bridge across Mill creek, which was strongly guarded by the enemy. The Regiment charged and carried it, but lost a number of good men. Sergeant Smith, of Company K, color bearer, was charging at the head of the column across the bridge, and was shot, the colors falling into the stream. The enemy rushed forward to secure them, but Lieutenant Webster, with Company F, charged, drove them back, and saved the colors. Colonel Bloomfield had his horse shot under him, and narrowly escaped himself.
Remained at Goldsboro, N.C., a few days, and, April 10, began the march against Raleigh. Left Raleigh May 1, for Washington, via Richmond. Participated in the grand review at Washington. Transported, by rail, to Parkersburg, Va.; thence, by boat, to Louisville, Ky., where it remained in camp until July 20, 1865, when it was mustered out of service, and started for Springfield, Illinois, for final payment and discharge. July 28, the Regiment was paid off, and disbanded. The Regiment had marched, during its four years of service, 6,931 miles, fought twenty-eight had battles, besides innumerable skirmishes. They were permitted, by the orders of the commanding General, to place upon their banners: "New Madrid", "Island No. 10", "Farmington", Siege of Corinth", "Iuka", "Corinth, 3d and 4th October 1862", "Holly Springs", "Vicksburg", "Jackson, Miss", "Mission Ridge", "Resaca", "Kenesaw", "Ezra Church", "Atlanta", "Jonesboro", "Griswoldville", "McAllister", "Savannah", "Columbia", "Bentonville".