The Twenty-seventh Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized with only seven companies at Camp Butler, Illinois, August 10, 1861, with Napoleon B. Buford for Colonel, Fraziel R. Harrington, Lieutenant Colonel, and ordered to go into camp at Jacksonville, Ill., as part of Brigadier General John A. McClernand's Brigade.
September 1, it was ordered to Cairo, where its organization was completed by the addition of three more companies, and the appointment of Hall Wilson as Major, and Henry A. Burt, Adjutant.
At the battle of Belmont, Mo., November 7, 1861, under General McClernand, it received its first baptism of fire, when it formed the right wing of the attacking force. Under the inspiration of its brave Colonel it drove, in the midst of a perfect hail of bullets and canister shot, the enemy from his camp in utter rout, capturing two brass field pieces which it immediately manned and turned upon the retreating enemy. It lost severely in the engagement and was the last Regiment to leave the field after the enemy had been reinforced from Columbus.
March 4, 1862, the Regiment formed part of the forces sent to occupy Columbus, which point had been evacuated by the Rebels.
March 14, in company with the Forty-second Illinois, Fifteenth Wisconsin, and parts of the Second Illinois Light Artillery and Second Illinois Cavalry, it formed the "Mississippi Flotilla," and started down the Mississippi River, taking an active part in the siege of "Island No. Ten."
March 30, it left its mooring above the Island and proceeded to Hickman, Ky., where it disembarked, and in company with the Fifteenth Wisconsin Infantry, three companies of Second Illinois Cavalry, and three pieces of Houghtaling's Battery, all under command of Colonel N. B. Buford, made a forced march to near Union City, Tenn., where at daylight on the morning of the 31st, it attacked a Rebel force that was being concentrated at that point, capturing and burning the enemy's entire camp and garrison equipage. Accomplishing all that the expedition was sent for, it returned with a few prisoners to Hickman, re-embarked on its transport boat and returned to its position above Island No. 10 without any casualities.
April 8, the Regiment was the first to land on Island No. 10, where it took charge of the captured forces, consisting of over 200 prisoners, including four companies of Rebel Artillery, thirty siege guns and a large quantity of camp and garrison equipage.
April 13, it moved down the Mississippi river, forming part of the squadron for attacking Fort Pillow, anchoring at a point about 6 miles above the fort, where it awaited developments.
April 16, it steamed up the river under an order from General Halleck to join his forces at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., where it landed on the 22d, and was immediately formed with Twenty-second, Forty-second and Fifty-first Illinois Regiments, into Second Brigade under Brigadier General John M. Palmer, of General Paine's Division, then advancing on Corinth, Miss. May 3, it advanced to near Farmington and skirmished for several hours with the enemy with but few casulaities. May 9, it engaged the enemy in force at Farmington in a pitched battle, losing a good many men.
May 17, it again encountered the enemy, drove him from his position and occupied Farmington. May 30, advanced in pursuit of the enemy beyond Corinth towards Booneville. The enemy having "skedaddled" the Regiment went into camp near Corinth, where it remained till the last of July, when it removed its camp to Iuka, Miss., where it did service by foraging off the enemy and bringing into Union lines confiscated cotton, returned from one expedition with 60 bales of fine cotton besides large quantities of corn and other supplies. In August, 1862, the Regiment was distributed along the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. September 5, it crossed the Tennessee river at Decatur, Alabama, and rejoined the other Regiments of General Palmer's Brigade and made a rapid march for Nashville, Tenn., arriving September 12, where it remained during September, October, and November, while the city was cut off from communication with the North. Engaged in foraging off the enemy and watching movements of Forrest's and Morgan's guerrilla Cavalry.
October 7, 1862, it took part in the skirmish with the enemy at LaVerne, Tenn., where quite a Rebel force was routed, part captured with a large supply train. The Regiment was highly complimented by the commanding officer, General Palmer, for its efficiency during the expedition. November 5, it took a prominent part in repulsing General Forrest's attack upon Nashville.
Early in December, 1862, the Twenty-seventh was assigned to General P. H. Sheridan's Division under Colonel Roberts of the Forty-second Regiment as Brigade Commander, forming a part of the right wing under General McCook, of Rosecrans' "Army of the Cumberland."
On the morning of December 26, the great army moved toward Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Twenty-second, deployed as skirmishers, soon took the advance of the Brigade on the "Nelsonbille Pike;" quickly discovering the enemy, it pushed forward in the midst of a drenchng rain so steadily that the enemy was soon in full retreat toward Nolensville, from which place he was also quickly driven, falling back towards Murfreesboro.
December 30, it marched in line of battle, supporting the Twenty-second and Forty-second Illinois Regiments as skirmishers, the enemy giving away slowly and very reluctantly. That night (30th), the Regiment slept on its arms expecting a conflict in the morning. It finished its breakfast--the last of its five days' rations--before daylight of the morning of the 31st and stood to arms.
The two right companies, A nd B, relieved the pickets in our front the previous night. Soon heavy fighting commenced away to the right of the Regiment, followed by the driving in of the picket line in our front, and soon the whole Regiment was under fire.
The position of the Regiment was the left Regiment of the Brigade, Division and right wing of the army.
Finding the right wing of the army giving way and driven back under the galling fire of the enemy massed on its front, Colonel Harrington, in command of the Regiment, changed front and formed line of battle in the point of timber to its left, where, supported by Houghtaling's Battery on the left and the Twenty-second Illinois Regiment in its rear, the Colonel gave orders to lie low and not fire until he gave the order.
The enemy flushed with success advanced rapidly, when the Twenty-seventh opened and gave him volley after volley which sent him reeling back. Three times he rallied and advanced only to be repulsed by the terrible fire which the Twenty-seventh and Twenty-second were pouring into his ranks. Here the Regiment suffered terrible losses, being in position where it drew the fire of two Rebel Batteries, besides the fire of the advancing infantry columns. Every horse of Houghtaling's Battery was killed, its Brigade Commander (Colonel Roberts) killed, its Colonel (Harrington) taken from the field mortally wounded. Its ammunition nearly all fired away, and being warned that the enemy was getting into its rear, the Regiment began to look to see who was in command. Finally Major William A. Schmitt, who had been too intently interested in the successful repulse of the enemy to fully realize that the command of the Regiment devolved upon him, said: "Boys, we must get out of this! To the rear, march." It was now near 12 o'clock as we commenced a line of retreat through the thick cedars toward the center of the Union line of battle. Coming out on the Murfreesboro and Nashville pike near General Rosecrans' headquarters, it was at once ordered into line of battle to check the Rebel advance upon headquarters. The Regiment clamoring for ammunition advanced to near the brow of the hill, where the enemy was approaching in hot haste with overwhelming numbers. Feeling unequal to the task it fell back to the pike. Again orders came that the Regiment must advance and charge bayonets. About facing, the Regiment fixed bayonets and rushed upon the foe with a most unearthly yell, driving him back, capturing a large number of prisoners and saving the day to the Union forces, as acknowledged by George Rosecrans in a geneal order issued immediately after the battle.
Emboldened by success, it pursued the enemy for a full half mile until ordered to fall back. Trembling, but not disheartened, did it await the going down of the sun on that day of fearful carnage.
At daylight Jan. 1, 1863, the Regiment stood to arms awaiting an attack. None came till about one o'clock P.M., when a Brigade of the enemy drove in the pickets and appraoched where the Regiment had thrown up breastworks. Withholding its fire till the enemy was within short range, it opened a most murderous fire, compelling the enemy to retreat double-quick, leaving his dead and wounded, besides one or two hundred prisoners. This was the last of the hard fighting by the Regiment at the battle of "Stone River."
It soon went into camp, beyond Murfreesboro, where it performed picket duty with an occasional skirmish with the enemyy until June 24, 1863, when it moved with the army--being a part of the Twentieth Army Corps--against Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Stevenson; thence to Bridgeport, Alabama, where it was stationed for some time.
It crossed the Tennessee River with its Corps at Bridgeport, on September 2, 1863, and moved toward Rome, Ga. This movement was kept up till the 17th inst., when it commenced a forced march over the almost impassable hills of that region, to rejoin the main body of Rosecrans' forces at Chickamauga. September 19, after partaking of an early breakfast, it was moved at a double-quick step from early dawn till late in the evening, making but one halt for a hasty dinner. Soon after four o'clock it was suddenly hurled into action--left in front--where it had a desperate encounter with some of the rebel forces under General Longstreet. Advancing under a murderous fire, it retook two pieces of the Eleventh Indiana Battery of General Woods, which had just been captured from our forces, and held the ground gained notwithstanding the enemy made several attempts to retake it losing heavily in the short engagement. It held the position until near daylight the following morning, when it was ordered to the rear for breakfast and a little needed rest. By eleven o'clock on the morning of the 20th it was again called into line of battle and went immediately into action, but was unable to check the advance of the enemy, who was moving forward with a line six or eight columns deep. After suffering great loss from the enemy's fire, the line was broken and the Regiment moved to the rear in good order, where it served as train guard during the remaining days of the battle, until ordered into camp at Chattanooga.
Was in Chattanopoga during its investment, and was engaged in storming Mission Ridge, as a part of Harker's Brigade, Sheridan's Division, and Thomas' Corps, where it was particularly noticed for its good conduct.
From Mission Ridge it went upon a forced march to the relief of Burnside at Knoxville, Tenn., then closely pressed by Longstreet's Corps. The march, 115 miles, was a severe one, many of the command being without shoes before it ended. The Regiment was obliged to live on what could be picked up by foraging off the enemy.
Reaching Knoxville the enemy had been repulsed by Burnside and was retreating. It returned to Louden, Tenn., on January 25, 1864, remaining until April 18, when it was ordered to Cleveland, Tenn. From thence it moved with the Army of the Cumberland on the Atlanta Campaign, during which there was scarcely a day that the Twenty-seventh or some part of it was not under fire more or less severe. It occupied the summit in the engagement at Rocky-faced Ridge, where, during the night spent upon it with no shelter, the command had to lash itself with withes to the saplings growing among the rocks for fear of rolling down the ridge. Engaged with the enemy there May 9; at Resaca, May 14; near Calhoun, May 16; Adairsville, May 17; near Dallas, May 26 to June 4; Pine Top Mountain, where Confederate General Polk was killed, June 10 to 14. On June 18 the Regiment was in a desperate fight from noon til night, at what the soldiers called the battle of Muddy Creek, because of the muddy creek that ran between them and the enemy's works, caused by the heavy rains. In the assault on Kenesaw Mountain, June 27, the Twenty-seventh, Twenty-second, Fifty-first and Forty-second Illinois formed General Harker's Brigade, which made the centre assault, during which General Harket received his death wound. The Regiment went into the assault with seventeen officers, coming out with only seven, and the loss of men was in about the same proportion. Color Sergeant Delaney, a brave soldier from Company K, from Jacksonville, Ill., planted the colors of the Twenty-seventh on the rebel earthworks, had a bayonet run through his breast, and fell backward, while the Regiment colors fell inside the works. Delaney died next day, mourning the loss of his colors. Skirmished aroiund the vicinity of the Chattahootchie River. July 20, was in the battle of Peach Tree Creek, and took part in the investment and skirmished about Atlanta.
The Regiment was relieved from duty at the front August 25, 1864, and ordered to Springfield, Ill., for muster out. Was detained at Nashville several days on account of apprehension of an attack by Wheeler. Was then conveyed by steamer down the Cumberland River and up the Mississippi to Alton, Ill., thence by rail to Camp Butler, near Springfield, where it was mustered out Septe,ber 20, 1864, after three years and three months constant service at the front.
During its term of service the Regiment had the following casualities: Killed or died of wounds, 102; died of disease, 80; number of wounded, 328; discharged for disability and resignation, 209; transferred, 39.
Its veterans and recruits were consolidated with the Ninth Illinois Volunteer Infantry.