The Fifty-Fourth Infantry was organized at Camp Dubois, Anna, Illinois, by Colonel Thomas W. Harris, in November 1861, as a part of the “Kentucky Brigade”. It was mustered into United States service, February 18, 1862.
February 24, 1862, ordered to Cairo, Illinois. March 14, moved to Columbus, Kentucky. Three companies were stationed at Humboldt, Tennessee, during the fall of 1862, and, December 18, the Regiment was ordered to Jackson, Tennessee. December 20, marched to Lexington, Tennessee, and returned on the 22d. 24th, marched to Britton’s Lane and Toon’s Station, returning December 28. Meantime General Forrest captured detachments of the Regiment, stationed on the railroad, and destroyed nearly all the records. The balance of the records were lost by the Quartermaster’s Detachment, in transit from Columbus to Jackson. Remained at Jackson, with two companies at Medon Station, and two at Toon’s, during January, February and March, 1863. In April, went to Corinth, and returned.
Left Jackson for Vicksburg, as part of the Third Brigade, Second Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, Brigadier General Nathan Kimball commanding Division, May 30, 1863. June 2d, arrived at Haines Bluff, on Yazoo River. Was on the extreme left of Sherman’s army, on the Big Black, confronting Johnson’s army, on the Canton road.
July 24th, 1863, ordered to Helena, as a part of General Steele’s expedition against Little Rock, Arkansas. August 13th, marched, and September 10th, arrived at Little Rock. October 15th, moved to Benton and Rockport, and returned.
January 1864, three-fourths of the Regiment re-enlisted, as veteran volunteers, and were mustered February 9th, 1864. Left for Mattoon, Illinois, for veteran furlough, March 28th. Veteran furlough having expired, the Regiment re-assembled at Mattoon. The same day an organized gang of Copperheads, led by Sheriff O’Hair, attacked some men of the Regiment at Charleston, killing Major Shubal York, Surgeon, and four privates, and wounding Colonel G. M. Mitchell. One hour later the Regiment arrived from Mattoon and occupied the town, capturing some of the most prominent traitors.
April 12th, moved to Cairo. 14th, to Columbus. 16th, to Paducah. Left Paducah 22d, and arrived at Little Rock 30th.
May 18th, left for Brownsville. Moved, 19th, in pursuit of General Shelby, and arrived at Little Rock 30th. June 25th, moved to Duvall’s Bluff, and thence to Clarendon. Fought Shelby on the 26th. Returned on the 29th. August 5th, assigned to guard 16 miles of Memphis and Little Rock railroad, having five stations, with two companies at each. August 24, was attacked by Shelby, with 4,000 men and 4 pieces of artillery, and one station captured. Six companies were concentrated at a station, by Colonel Mitchell, and fought five hours, when their hay breast-works being burned by the enemy’s shell, they were driven out and captured by detail. Loss, Lieutenant Thomas P. James and 13 men killed, and 35 wounded. Companies F and H, at a distant station, were not attacked. Were paroled at Jacksonport, Arkansas, and arrived at Benton Barracks, Missouri, September 9, 1864.
The Regiment was exchanged December 5, 1864, and arrived at Hickory Station, on Memphis and Little Rock railroad, January 18, 1865, and remained as railroad guard until June 6, 1865. Arrived at Pine Bluff, June 9, 1865. Marched, August 18, and arrived at Fort Smith, Arkansas, August 30. October 4, marched, and arrived at Little Rock, October 6.
Mustered out October 15, 1865. Arrived at Camp Butler, Illinois, October 26, and was discharged.
Since the organization the Regiment has had 1,342 enlisted men and 71 commissioned officers.