The Fortieth Infantry was enlisted from the counties of Franklin, Hamilton, Wayne, White, Wabash, Marion, Clay and Fayette. The Regiment, with ten companies, reported at Springfield, Ill., and on the 10th of August 1861, was mustered into the service for three years. Moved to Jefferson Barracks, Mo., Aug 13, and remained there until the 30th of the same month, when the Regiment was moved to Bird's Point; thence to Paducah, Ky., Sept. 8, 1861. Here eight companies encamped during the winter, drilling and doing guard duty; two, A and F were detached doing like duty at Smithland, Ky. While at Paducah the Twelfth, Fortieth and Forty-first Regiments of Illinois Volunteers, and Buell's Battery were organized into a Brigade, commanded by General E. A. Payne. In March 1862, General Sherman organized the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio and Morton's Battery into a Brigade commanded by Colonel Hicks, of the Fortieth Illinois, the Fortieth in command of Lieutenant Colonel Booth.
On the 10th of March 1862, the entire Division, aboard transports, steamed up the Tennessee River to Eastport, Ala., but effected no landing because of rebel fortifications and high waters. Dropped down the river on the 17th of March to Pittsburg Landing.
The First Brigade on re-organization was composed of the Sixth Iowa, Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio and Morton's Battery, Colonel McDowall, of the Sixth Iowa, commanding.
The Regiment was engaged in the battle of Shiloh. Colonel Hicks was severely wounded the first day. The Regiment lost in this battle one commissioned officer killed and three wounded; 42 men killed and 148 wounded.
The Fortieth Illinois is on the regiments General Sherman complimented for standing, at his request, when their cartridge boxes were empty, in the face of the enemy under heavy fire.
The Regiment, after the battle of Shiloh, was moved to Corinth, there participating in the engagements of the siege until the fall of the city. Then the Regiment was ordered to Memphis, reaching there July 21, 1862, and encamped until Nov. 26. Thence moved toward the rear of Vicksburg to College Hill, Miss. Returned to Holly Springs. Moved from Holley Springs to Davis' Mills in Northern Mississippi, where the Regiment went into winter quarters. On the 17th of April 1863, the Regiment started for a nine days' scout through Northern Mississippi, stopping at LaGrange on the 25th of June. Started for Vicksburg June 7, via Memphis, Tenn., stopping at Sneider's Bluff in the rear of Vicksburg, where the Regiment remained until the 23d of June 1863, when it was moved with Sherman's command to Black River, Miss., confronting Johnston's army until the fall of Vicksburg. The Regiment then went in pursuit of Johnston's army, with Sherman's command, to Jackson, Miss., skirmishing all the way. Was engaged in the battle at Jackson, Miss., July 16th, and the officers and men of the Regiment were complimented in public orders for bravery and gallant conduct.
After this battle the Regiment was engaged in destroying bridges and railroads in and around the city of Jackson, Miss.; thence returning to Black River in the rear of Vicksburg, going into camp until the 25th day of September 1863.
During the siege of Vicksburg and the campaign around Jackson, Miss., the Regiment operated with the Ninth Army Corps in the Division commanded by General W. S. Smith, Brigade by Colonel S. G. Hicks and the Regiment by Major H. W. Hall. On the 25th of September the Division to which the Regiment belonged, by order, became the Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and marched into Vicksburg, and embarked for Memphis. From Memphis marched across the country to Chattanooga by way of Corinth, Eastport, Ala., Florence, Ala., Stevenson, Ala., reaching Brown's Ferry, two miles below Chattanooga, Nov. 22, 1863.
While on this march five companies, B, D, F, H and K, were mounted and separated from the Regiment, scouting, until the 28th of December 1863. The other companies, A, C, E, I and G, under the immediate command of Major H. W. Hall, on reaching the Tennessee River at Brown's Ferry, were left in charge of a wagon train. At 10 o'clock P.M., on the 23d of November 1863, the Major received a dispatch from General J. W. Corse, stating that the grand attack would begin in the morning.
By means of a small boat the Regiment crossed the river, reaching the command at 1 A.M., of Nov. 24th. At daylight crossed the mouth of Chickamauga creek and captured a high hill, driving back the enemy; placed a battery in position on its top and supported it through the night. At daylight on the morning of the 25th, the Regiment was deployed and under fire led the assaulting column upon the enemy's works on Mission Ridge, drove in the enemy's pickets and sealed his works, losing several men inside. The enemy was being strongly reinforced in front, and the Regiment having being unsupported was compelled to fall back under cover of the hill. The enemy with heavy reinforcements charged upon the Fortieth. The battery the Regiment had supported during the night poured a deadly fire into the enemy's ranks and checked his advance, but at the same time the battery made sad work in the ranks of the Fortieth, killing and wounding its own men. Again the Fortieth was deployed and assaulted the enemy's works, supported by the brigade. Major Hall gave the order not to retreat if the support failed them, but to lie down and protect themselves in every way they could from the enemy's fire. General Corse was wounded, the Brigade fell back and the Fortieth laid down and continued in the enemy's front, and picking off the enemy's gunners, silenced the batteries and kept them quiet until a heavy assault on the right engaged the forces of the enemy, and the Regiment was enabled to withdraw. Of the five companies, numbering one hundred and thirty men, seven were killed and forty-four wounded, many of the mortally.
On the 26th, the Regiment pursued the retreating enemy, skirmishing in the rain all day and capturing many prisoners. On the 29th moved northward to relieve Burnsides at Knoxville.
On this march the Regiment subsisted off the country, and for several days all supplies were gathered on the march. On the 5th of December, crossed the Tennessee at Morgantown on a temporary bridge hastily constructed by the Pioneer Corps. Marched to Maysville; then fearing that the enemy had raised the siege at Knoxville, command returned to Chattanooga, thence to Scottsboro, Alabama, where the scouting companies rejoined the Regiment, and all went into winter quarters.
Her the Regiment took the initiative in the work of re-enlisting, spreading such enthusiasm that in one entire Division (General Ewing's) there were not more than 50 men eligible for the Veteran service who did not re-enlist. January 1, 1864, the Fortieth was mustered as a Veteran Regiment. At that date its aggregate strength was 443. During the two years and five month's service; deaths, 261; other casualties, 196; discharged, 17; transferred to other commands, 6; missing in action, and desertion, 17. In March the Veterans of the Regiment took their 30 days' furlough, after which they started on the great Atlantic Campaign. Lieutenant Colonel Barnhill, being relieved from detached service, took command of the Regiment, and retained it until the assault on Kenesaw Mountain where he was killed, on the 27th of June 1864. The command again devolved on Major H. W. Hall, who was promoted Lieutenant Colonel, and retained command until the close of the war.
At the assault on Kenesaw, the Regiment led an assaulting column to the enemy's works. The assault was a failure, and the Regiment suffered severely. The Regiment was actively engaged in all the marches, skirmishes and battles which finally resulted in the capture of Atlanta, Ga. On the 22d of July 1864, it was attacked in the rear, and before it had entirely checked the enemy, it was assaulted in front, and fought on both sides of its works, - first driving Hardee, then jumping the parapets to receive the attack of Stewart's command, holding its position until dark, when the enemy fell back, leaving many of his number killed and wounded.
The Regiment was moved from the east to the west of Atlanta, and while on the move, on the 28th of July 1864, the rebels under Hardee and Lee sallied from their works on the Ball's Ferry road, and attacked the Fifteenth Corps with great fury, breaking through the Second Division (General W. S. Smith's). The Fortieth Illinois and Sixth Iowa were sent from the Fourth Division to check the enemy. Moving at double-quick into the breach, they checked the enemy, hurling it back, and as many as six times successively drove it back, in each instance with great slaughter. Major Ennis, commanding Sixth Iowa was killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Hall, commanding Fortieth Illinois, was severely wounded. The struggle was severe, and the loss of the Regiment heavy, but it held its position until the enemy fell back.
August 31, 1864, near Jonesboro, Ga., the Fortieth was warmly engaged, holding its position for two hours during heavy fighting, until the enemy was repulsed, leaving his killed and wounded on the field.
Three years having expired, the non-Veterans were mustered out of the service and sent home, together with all the wounded able to endure the journey. The Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, being broken up, the Fortieth Illinois was transferred to the First Division, same Corps, with which it remained until the war ended.
The Regiment did hard marching, following Hood's army towards Chattanooga and off into northern Alabama; then returned to Atlanta, and was employed for a time destroying railroad tracks in and around Atlanta. November 16th, 1864, the Regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Hall, started on the "march through Georgia", well supplied with cartridges, and a limited amount of coffee, sugar and hard bread, and a double allowance of salt. November 22, 1864, early in the morning, the Fortieth Illinois, in advance of Walcott's Brigade, met the Georgia Militia at Griswoldville, east of Macon, where the Brigade, consisting of the Fortieth Illinois, Forty-sixth Ohio, Sixth Iowa, and a battery, repulsed the enemy twice, and drove him back in the direction of Macon. The Regiment buried its dead, took its wounded in ambulances, and marched on the same night, meeting but slight opposition until it reached the Ogeechee River, near the city of Savannah, Ga., reaching there about December 10, 1864. Crossed on a pontoon bridge, and skirmished with the enemy, drove him back into his fortifications, and the investment of the city began. From this time until December 21, 1864, the Regiment was constantly employed, either on the skirmish line or strengthening its works. The city surrendered, and the Regiment marched into it December 21, 1864, and was on duty in the city until the commencement of the march northward.
The Regiment left Savannah, marched to Thunderbolt and was transported to Beaufort, S.C., landed, and from there marched through South Carolina by way of Pocotaligo and Barnvell to Columbus. On February 13, 1865, the Regiment being the advance, met the enemy's cavalry early in the morning, and drove him all day until they fell back into their works in the evening, when artillery opened upon the Regiment, causing it to halt. On February 20, marched out of Columbus on the Waynesboro road, crossed the Wateree River on a pontoon bridge at Dixon's Ferry. Entered Cheraw, S.C., March 4, and crossed the Great Pedee March 5. Entered Fayetteville, N.C., March 14, and crossed the Cape Fear River. While marching on the Goldsboro road on the 19th, heavy artillery firing was heard on the left. The Regiment advanced in the direction of the firing, met the enemy, and at Bentonville, N.C., where he made a stubborn resistance, the Regiment was hotly engaged.
March 22, entered Bentonville. March 24, marched into Goldsboro, remaining until April 10.Marched in the direction of Raleigh, N.C., skirmishing with the enemy on the way. On April 11 and 12, the Regiment was engaged in skirmishes with the enemy.
On April 13, near Raleigh, N.C., the Regiment got the news of Lee's surrender to General Grant.
On April 14, entered Raleigh and went into camp on Beaver Dam Creek, and remained until General Johnston's army surrendered to General Sherman, April 29. Then the Regiment marched in the direction of "Home, Sweet Home", crossed the Roanoke River on a pontoon at Robertson's Ferry, reaching Petersburg May 7. On May 9, passed through Petersburg, Va., and on the 10th camped at Manchester, opposite Richmond.
On May 13, at Hanover C.H., received a Richmond paper announcing the capture of Jeff. Davis and family.
On May 17, reached Fredericksburg, now of such historic fame.
On May 17, 1865, reached Mount Vernon, paid respect to the tomb and home of Washington, inspecting them minutely.
The Regiment took part in the Grand Review in Washington City, where it was highly complimented for its gallant services. Remained in camp near the city a few days, then moved by rail to Parkersburg, W. Virginia, and from there by steamboat to Louisville, Ky., where the Regiment was mustered out of service July 24, 1865, and sent to Springfield, Ill., and paid off.
The Regiment served four years, and was actively engaged in the two days' battle at Shiloh, Tenn.; siege of Corinth, Miss.; siege of Vicksburg, Miss.; Jackson, Miss.; battle of Mission Ridge, Tenn.; New Hope Church, Ga.; Black Jack Knob, Ga.; Kenesaw Mountain, Ga.; Atlanta, Ga., July 22 and 28, 1864; Ezra Chapel, Ga.; Jonesboro, Ga.; Griswoldville, Ga.; siege of Savannah, Ga.; battles on Cumbahe River, S.C., Columbus, S.C., and Bentonville, N.C. After the fall of Atlanta, many of the old officers were mustered out because of the expiration of their term of service. Only three of the original officers remained with the Regiment the entire four years, and were present and mustered out with it; one of whom, Captain H. W. Hall, was promoted and commanded the Regiment in all its battles after Shiloh. Second Assistant Surgeon Wm. Graham was promoted Surgeon, and served with the Regiment to the close. Second Lieutenant Wm. H. Summers, Co. E, served with his command was mustered out with the rank of Major. The aggregate loss of the Regiment in its four years' service, as reported by T. M. Eddy, D.D., in his "Patriotism of Illinois", is set down at 395.