The "First Battalion of Yates' Sharp Shooters" was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in the month of December, 1861, by Lieutenant Colonel D. E. Williams. It consisted of four Companies,--the last of which was mustered into the United States' service December 16, 1861. Two additional Companies were mustered into service December 31, with Fred W. Matteson as Major. January 10, 1862, the Battalion was ordered to Quincy. and went into barracks. Here it was armed. Moved to Cairo February 16, and March 4 moved, via Bird's Point, Charleston, Bertrand and Sykeston, to New Madrid, and was assigned to Morgan's Brigade, Payne's Division, Pope's command. On the evening of the 12th of March, Companies A, D, E and F made a night attack on the enemy's right, driving his pickets, and skirmishing heavily till midnight. drawing the attention of the enemy from the tenth and Sixteenth Illinois, who were planting siege guns on the enemy's left. Was present at the bombardment of New Madrid the next day, and afterward as support to Williams' siege guns, four miles below, where Pope effected his crossing.
Under command of Major Matteson, moved with Pope's expedition against Fort Pillow, and returning, moved up Tennessee River, disembarking at Hamburg Landing April 22. Was engaged in the siege of Corinth from that time till its evacuation, (May 30,) being continually on skirmish and picket line. May 3 the Battalion was heavily engaged at Chambers' Creek, but repulsed the enemy, the loss being four killed and five wounded. May 7, in General Paine's reconnoissance, lost two men killed and three wounded. May 30 the Battalion entered Corinth in time to see the enemy's rear guard leaving it. In the afternoon took the advance in pursuit of the enemy, and came upon their rear at Tuscumbia Creek about dark, when a brisk skirmish ensued, continuing during the night and the next day. The pursuit was continued to Boonville, when the Battalion returned. The Battalion camped at Big Springs, six miles from Corinth.
General Rosecrans taking command of the Army of the Mississippi, the Sixty-fourth was detailed as headquarter guard, on which duty it remained until November following.
Lieutenant Colonel Williams left the Battalion, on sick leave, May 17, and never returned, being discharged September 11.
Major Matteson commanded the Battalion until August 8, when he died in hospital. He was a gallant and much loved officer. Captain John Morrill, of Company A, took command. and was afterward promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
August 20, moved to Iuka. Mississippi. In September returned to Clear Creek, and again moved on Iuka. via Jacinto. Was present at the battle of Iuka, but not engaged. September 20, was in pursuit of the enemy. Returned to Corinth. The evening of October 3, went into position, and was sent forward as skirmishers. On the morning of the 4th the Battalion met the first advance of the enemy, and was heavily engaged during the day, doing efficient and distinguished service. The Sixty-fourth lost, this day, seventy men, killed, wounded and missing, including Captain David G. Grover, killed.
On November 27, ordered on out-post duty at Glendale, Mississippi, where the Battalion erected fortifications and mounted two pieces artillery. While here, Captain James C. Cameron, Company A, raised the Second Alabama Cavalry, was commissioned Colonel, and was afterwards killed while gallantly leading the Regiment in a charge, at Barton's Station, April 17, 1863.
November 4, 1863, the Sixty-fourth moved to luke, and thence to Pulaski, Tennessee, arriving November 11.
On the 15th of January, 1864, over three-fourths of the Battalion having re-enlisted, it moved north, for veteran furlough, arriving at Chicago on the 22d. Was furloughed for twenty days, and re-assembled at Ottawa February 14. Four new Companies (G, H, I and K). having been recruited by Captain Manning, were added to the Battalion, making a full regiment. Lieutenant Colonel Morrill was made Colonel, Captain M. W. Manning, Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Thompson, Major.
March 17, 1864, the Regiment left Ottawa, and on the 23d arrived at Decatur, Alabama, and was assigned to the First Brigade, Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps. On May 4, moved to Chattanooga, and joined General Sherman's Army. Arrived before Resaca May 9, and Companies F and A deployed, driving the enemy into their works. In the night, marched to Snake Creek Gap. On the 13th advanced to Resaca, and was engaged till 16th, when the enemy retired. Arrived at Kingston May 20, at Van Wert on 25th, and at Dallas on 27th. On this day Companies A and F, on skirmish line, lost fourteen men killed and wounded. Until the 31st the Regiment was each day engaged at Dallas. June 1 to 4, moved to the left. On the 5th, skirmished with the enemy near New Hope Church. On 6th, moved to Ackworth; 10th, to Big Shanty; 11th. advanced to foot of Kenesaw Mountain. Until 26th, was engaged at Kenesaw. On the 27th of June the Sixty-fourth was in the advance line of the assaulting forces, and was heavily engaged, losing, in killed and wounded, fifty-seven men, among whom was Adjutant W. H. Hinckley, killed. July 3. when the enemy fell back, the flag of the Sixty-fourth was the first on Kenesaw. July 4, the entire Regiment was on the skirmish line, and drove the enemy two miles, losing twenty-five killed and wounded. On 7th, had a skirmish on the Chattahoochie. On the 10th, crossed the river, and fortified. On the 17th, advanced to Nance's Creek. The Regiment being deployed, drove the enemy a mile and a half. On 18th, marched toward Decatur, and on the 19th engaged the enemy, losing five men, Surgeon J. T. Stewart being wounded. On the 22d. marched to the support of the Seventeenth Corps, and was heavily engaged, charging the enemy three times, and capturing forty prisoners and one battle flag, and re-captured the field glass and papers of Major General McPherson, who had been killed and robbed by the enemy. The loss of the Regiment in this action was fifteen killed, sixty-seven wounded, and seven missing. On 28th, the Regiment was hotly engaged, and repulsed several charges of the enemy. From this time until August 26, was engaged in the siege of Atlanta. On 26th, moved out of the works, down the Sandtown road, and marched all night, and 27th and 28th struck the Montgomery railroad, and 29th was engaged tearing up the track. On 30th marched to Macon railroad. On September 2d passed through Jonesboro and Lovejoy. On 8th, went into camp at East Point.
On September 23d the Division was transferred to Seventeenth Corps. The Regiment was now in First Brigade, First Division, Seventeenth Corps,--Brigadier General J. W. Fuller commanding Brigade, Major General J. A. Mower commanding Division, and Major General F. P. Blair commanding Corps.
October 1st, marched to Fairburn. on a reconnoissance. On 3d, returned. On 4th, commenced march after Hood; moving via Atlanta, crossed Chattahoochie at midnight. and marched all night in the rain, and camped in works in Marietta. Thence, moved northward, passing through Kingston, near Rome, to Adairsville, and arrived at Resaca on 15th. In the night Captain Conger and Company A moved, in advance of a reconnoissance party, to Snake Creek Gap. Captain Conger was mortally wounded, and two men severely wounded. October 16th, the whole Regiment, on skirmish line, advanced on the Gap, driving the enemy in confusion. Marching via Lafayette and Summerville, arrived at Gaylersville, Alabama, October 21.
On 29th, marched, via Cave Springs, to Cedartown. Had a skirmish with the enemy's cavalry. Moved to Smyrna Camp Ground on 5th November. On 13th moved to Atlanta, and on 15th started on the "march to the sea." On December 9th, skirmished with the enemy at Poole's Station. On 10th, invested the city of Savannah. On 11th December, skirmished with the enemy all day. On the 16th marched to King's Bridge, on the Ogeechee. On 17th moved south, and on 19th reached Doctortown, on Gulf railroad and Altamaha River. After destroying railroad, returned to Savannah December 23.
January 3, 1866, embarked at Thunderbolt, for Beaufort, South Carolina. On 13th left Beaufort, and, 15th. arrived at Pocotaligo. On January 20 and 25 the Sixty-fourth was engaged in demonstrations against Salkahatchie and Cambahee Ferry. January 31, moved from Pocotaligo. On February 3 crossed the Salkahatchie, in face of the enemy, fighting in cold water three and four feet deep, and gained a footing on the opposite side, when the enemy fled The command then marched, via Midway and Orangeburg, to Columbia. Thence, via Winnsboro, Cheraw, Laurel Hill, to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Arrived at Bentonville, 20th March, and the entire Regiment was on the skirmish line, 21st. capturing twelve prisoners, thirty-five horses, and one caisson, and General Johnson's headquarters, losing thirteen men killed and wounded. On 24th March camped at Goldsboro.
Marched April 10, arriving at Raleigh 13th. On 26th, moved to Jones' Cross Roads. On 27th returned to Raleigh, and on 30th marched for Washington, arriving May 19. Was in the grand review, May 24. June 6, moved for Louisville, Kentucky. On July 11 was mustered out of service by Lieutenant Robert M. Woods, A. C. M. On 14th arrived at Chicago, Illinois, where the Regiment received final payment and discharge, July 18, 1865.
Colonel John Morrill, afterwards breveted Brigadier General, commanded the Regiment until July 22, 1864, when he was severely wounded. Lieutenant Colonel M. W. Manning until November 12, 1864, and Captain J. S. Reynolds (afterwards Lieutenant Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General) from November 12 until its muster out.