This Regiment was organized in August. 1861, at Camp Ellsworth, Chicago, under the supervision of Colonel Charles Knoblesdorff, and mustered into the service of the United States on the 13th day of September, 1861, and, on the 14th of the same month, embarked on board the cars for St. Louis, Missouri. where it arrived on the 15th.
On the 16th, ordered to Washington, D. C.; but this order was countermanded the next day, and the Regiment took up its quarters at Benton Barracks, where it remained till the 22d, when it received arms from the St. Louis Arsenal and embarked on steamer for Jefferson City, which was then threatened by the victorious army of General Price, jubilant over their dearly bought victory at Lexington. Arrived at Jefferson City on the 25th, and the next day disembarked and took quarters in the State House. Remained there till the 29th, when it marched to Sedalia, Missouri, where the Regiment was assigned to General Sigel's famous Division. Remained in camp, drilling, scouting, foraging, etc., till the 13th of October, when the army took up its line of march toward Springfield, Missouri.
Arrived at Springfield on the 27th, only a few hours too late to take part in the bloody charge, led by Major Zagonia (of General Fremont's Body Guard), on the rebel cavalry which was stationed there, by which, they were driven from the town. Here remained till the 8th of November, when General Fremont, having been relieved from command on the 4th, and General Hunter placed in command of the army, it moved toward Wilson's Creek, the scene of the late bloody battle between General Lyon's and Colonel Sigel's forces, and the rebel army under Price and McCullough. The men were in the best of spirits, and, although they were now to meet that enemy whom they had been seeking for two months, none appeared to doubt their ability to whip any force which might be brought against them; but all were doomed to disappointment, for the next day's order was to turn back towards Springfield, where, arriving same evening, it was found that the army had broken up camp and was marching toward Rolla, Missouri. At the same time, the Division (Sigel's) had moved in the opposite direction only for the purpose of deceiving the enemy in regard to real movements; and, on the 13th, the Division followed on, in the rear of the main army, toward Rolla, the terminus of the G.W. Branch of the Pacific R. R., where it arrived on the 19th, without being materially molested by the enemy. Here it remained during the winter, the Regiment suffering severely from sickness, many of the men being called to "that house not made with hands," and many others being discharged for disability.
On the 2d of February, 1862, General Curtis having assumed command of the army, it again took up the line of march toward Springfield, where the rebel General Price had concentrated his forces, with the avowed determination of giving battle should he be attacked. But he failed to come to time, and the Union forces again took possession of the city on the 13th day of February. without serious opposition. Then began an exciting chase--this Regiment being continually in advance, till it reached Camp Halleck, Benton county, Arkansas. On the 20th, when the pursuit was abandoned, the troops were allowed a few days' rest, having marched four consecutive days during the most inclement weather, there being six inches of snow on the ground a portion of the time, and skirmishing with the enemy every day during the last week's march. Here they remained till the 5th of March, when it became evident that the combined forces of Van Dorn, Price and McCullough were marching to give battle, and accordingly on the 6th, moved toward Sugar Creek Valley, under the command of Curtis, Sigel, Davis and Asboth, and in the afternoon of the same day the rear guard was attacked and repulsed by the enemy, Thus began the terrible battle of Pea Ridge, which resulted so disastrously to the rebels, in which this Regiment took a prominent part. After the enemy had been routed this was one of the regiments selected to follow up his retreat, which was done for three days, capturing one stand of colors, taking many hundred prisoners and several pieces of artillery. Remained in this vicinity till the 5th day of April, when the march was resumed for Forsythe, Missouri, and thence to Batesville, Arkansas, on the White River. when the army was reorganized, it being now in the Brigade commanded by Colonel Osterhaus, and on the 8th of May crossed the river, and. as was supposed, took up the line of march toward Little Rock. Had not gone far when order were received to return to Batesville and march to Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi River, two hundred miles distant, and from thence to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, by water, to reinforce the troops then besieging Corinth, Mississippi. Arrived at Plttsburg Landing on the 26th of May, and the next day marched up within supporting distance of the main army, arriving two days previous to the evacuation. After the evacuation, was attached to Major General Pope's Army, and sent in pursuit of the retreating foe; but the roads were so bad that the pursuit was abandoned after a few days, and on the 12th of June, returned to Rienzi, Mississippi. and went into camp, and remained there until August 26. Cincinnati and Covington being threatened by the enemy, the Brigade, consisting of the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, Thirty-sixth and Forty-fourth Illinois, under command of Colonel Greusel, of the Thirty-sixth Illinois, was ordered to those places, to protect them from the assaults of the enemy.
It arrived at Cincinnati about the 1st of September, and immediately crossed the river to Covington, Kentucky where it remained until the 17th, when it became known that the enemy had withdrawn from the front and were then moving upon Louisville. The Brigade recrossed the river to Cincinnati, and embarked on board the cars for Louisville, where it arrived on the 19th, and remained till the 1st of October. Here the command was again reorganized, under the command of Major General Buell--this Regiment being assigned to the Thirty-fifth Brigade, Eleventh Division, Army of the Ohio, and started on the memorable campaign after Bragg, through Kentucky. The Regiment was engaged in the battle of Perryville on the 8th of October, being in the Division commanded by General P. H. Sheridan. After the battle, followed the retreating foe to Crab Orchard. On the 20th of October marched toward Bowling Green, where it arrived on the 1st of November. Here General Rosecraus assumed command of the army. On the 4th of November took up the line of march toward Nashville, where it arrived on the 7th, thus relieving the garrison at that place and reopening communication with Louisville. Remained here till the 26th day of December, when the army moved against the rebel forces at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Was now attached to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Twentieth Army Corps. Colonel Schaffer commanding the Brigade, General Sheridan the Division, and General McCook the Corps. In the bloody battle of Stone River the Regiment took a prominent part, losing more than half its number in killed and wounded. Remained with the army at Murfreesboro till the 26th of June, 1863, when it again marched to meet the enemy, and was engaged at Hoover's Gap, Shelbyville, and Tullahoma, Tennessee. Arrived at Cowan Station on the 2d of July, and remained there for a few days, when it marched to Stevenson, Alabama, driving the rear of the rebel army across the Tennessee River at Bridgeport, Alabama. Then returned to Stevenson, Alabama, and remained till the 21st of August, when the movement against Chattanooga, Tennessee began. This Corps (the Twentieth) crossed Sand Mountain. and moved down the valley towards Rome, Georgia, and had reached a point within 27 miles of the latter place, when the balance of the army was attacked, near Chickamauga by the rebel forces under Bragg and Longstreet. The Forty-fourth was ordered to return immediately, and rejoin the main army, After three days and nights forced marches, it arrived on the field in time to take part in the bloody conflict of September 19 and 20, 1863. Falling back toChattanooga. Tenn., it remained there on quarter rations till the latter part of November. On the 25th of November this Regiment was foremost in the desperate charge upon Mission Ridge. Gen. Sheridan giving it praise for having placed one of the first flags on the rebel works. Following the enemy next day it captured many prisoners and several pieces of artillery, and on the 27th was ordered back to Chattanooga to prepare for a forced march to Knoxville, 150 miles distant, to relieve the forces there then being besieged by the rebel forces under the command of General Longstreet. It arrived at Knoxville three days after the siege had been raised by General Burnside. The Twentieth and Twenty-first Corps having been consolidated at Chattanooga, the Forty-fourth was assigned to the First Brigade. Second Division, Fourth Army Corps--Colonel F. T. Sherman commanding the Brigade, General Sheridan the Division, and General Granger the Corps. From Knoxville marched to Severville, and after staying there a few days, were ordered back to Knoxville, and from there out on the E. T. and V. railroad, to Strawberry Plains, where it was reported the enemy had made a stand and offered battle: but this proved a mistake, and the Regiment went into camp at Blain's Cross Roads. Here the troops were on the point of starvation several times, having, for days at a time, nothing but corn in the ear, and but a limited supply of that. Nothing could more fully prove the patriotism of the men, than the fact that here, on the point of starvation, exposed to the most inclement weather, (it being so cold that the Ink would freeze to the pen as the men signed their names,) over three-fourths of the men voluntarily consented to serve three years more for that government for which they had suffered so much during the past two years and a half. Remained here until about the 12th of January. 1864, when it marched to Dandridge, Tennessee, where on the 16th and 17th, an attack was made by the enemy: and, after considerable hard fighting, it becoming evident that the whole rebel army was advancing, the Union forces felt back to Knoxville, and from there marched to Kingston, Tennessee, when a stand was made till the 30th of January, when they were ordered to Chattanooga, to receive veteran furloughs. Arrived at that place on the 3rd of February, and drew full rations from the Government for the first time in four months. Started for home on the 18th, and reached Chicago on the 1st of March. On the fourth the men were furloughed, and started for home. From the time the Regiment left its rendezvous, in September. 1861, up to the time of re-enlistment, it had marched over 5,000 miles.
On the 14th day of April, the Regiment reached Nashville, Tennessee, on its way back to the field. On the 16th, marched toward Chattanoogo, arriving there on the 30th. The next day started for Cleveland, Tennessee, where it arrived on the 3d of May, and was immediately ordered to the front with the main army, which had just began its movements toward Atlanta. The Regiment passed through nearly all the battles and skirmishes of this ever memorable campaign, and entered Atlanta on the 8th day of September, with the main army. Among the many battles and skirmishes in which this Regiment was engaged during the campaign, might be mentioned Buzzard Roost, Rocky Faced Mountain, Resaca, Adaireville, Dallas, New Hope Church, Kenesaw Mountain, Gulp's Farm, Chattahoochie River, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta and Jonesboro. After staying at Atlanta, two weeks, it was on the 28th of September ordered to Chattanooga, where it remained till the 18th of October, when, in company with the rest of the Division (Second) it was sent on a reconnoitering expedition to Alpine Valley, about 40 miles distant. Returned on the 29th. On the 1st of November it was ordered to Athens, Alabama, for the purpose of intercepting the rebel army under General Hood, now marching toward Nashville. Tennessee. From Athens it marched to Pulaski, Tennessee, and made preparations to give battle should the enemy attack; but it soon became apparent that our numbers were far to small to cope successfully with the rebel hordes. On the 22nd, commenced falling back towards Nashville, closely followed by the enemy. There was more or less fighting every day until the 30th of November. Arriving at Franklin, Tennessee, General Schofield, then in command. determined to offer battle. The conflict was short, but one of the most desperate in which the Regiment was ever engaged. Our Brigade commander, Colonel Opdyke, afterward in a general order, by the authority of the general commanding, gave the honor of gaining the victory and saving the army to this Brigade. The next day reached Nashville, and the Regiment again took part in the battle of Nashville, December15 and 16, and followed the broken and scattered columns of the rebel force to the Tennessee River. On the 5th of January. 1865, went into camp at Huntsville, Alabama.
Thus ended the war in the Department of the Cumberland. On the 29th of March the Regiment was ordered to Knoxville. Tennessee, and then to Bull's Gap and Blue Springs, East Tennessee, where it remained till the 19th of April, when the rebel army of Virginia having surrendered to General Grant. the Corps (the Fourth) was ordered to Nashville, where it arrived on the 22d, and for a few weeks indulged the vain hope that it was now going to be mustered out of service, but this illusion was soon dispelled by receiving orders to go to New Orleans. On the 15th day of June, started for the Cresent City, arriving on the 22d, After lying there till the 18th of July, was ordered to Texas, and embarked on board steamer for Indianola. Landed at Port Lavaca on the 22d, and went into camp on the LaPlasido River, where it remained until the 25th day of September, 1865, when it was mustered out and placed en routefor Springfield, Illinois.
Arrived at Springfield October 15, 1865, where it received final payment and discharge.