The seventy-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry was organized at Kankakee, Illinois, in August, 1862, by Colonel A. W. Mack, and was mustered in August 22d, 1862.
Immediately after its muster it was ordered to Columbus, Kentucky, at which place it arrived August 29th, and soon after was armed with Enfield Rifle Muskets. Remained at Columbus, drilling and doing fatigue and picket duty, until October 4th, when the Regiment was ordered to Bolivar, Tenn., by rail, at which place it arrived October 5th, and camped near the city until November 3d, when the Regiment with other troops was moved to La Grange, Tenn., and remained there until November 28th, when it was sent with General Grant on his campaign along the Mississippi Central Railroad; was at Holly Springs on the 29th and at Waterford on the 30th, doing its part in driving Price's army southwest.
The Fourth Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, to which the Seventy-sixth belonged, remained near Waterford contending with fierce storms and fathomless mud until December 11th, when it continued its march southward, crossing the Tallahatchie River, passing through Abbyville and Oxford, and halting near Springdale, until December 22d, when the information was received that the Rebel General VanDorn had captured Holly Springs in the rear of the army and destroyed a large quantity of supplies and cut off all communication with the North.
The entire command was about faced and proceeded northward, living off the country and at times on extremely short rations.
After several days slow marching and much speculation in the entire absence of northern news as to what was to become of the regiment and the army and the country, Holly Springs was entered on the 5th of January, 1863, at which place it remained until January 10th, witnessing many extensive conflagrations.
The Seventy-sixth was the last regiment leaving the city. It marched out about sunset, and the Rebels hovering around in the vicinity occupied the city immediately upon its exit. The Regiment arrived at Moscow on the evening of January 11th and remained there until February 5th, on full rations. At this place the Regiment received official information of the resignation of Col. Mack, who was at that time absent from the Regiment. Lieut. Col. Busey was soon after promoted to Colonel.
On February 5th, the camp of the Regiment was moved, through snow and mud, about ten miles, to the village of Lafayette, where it remained until March 10th, when after a three days' march it arrived at Memphis, Tenn., where it remained until May 13th, when it embarked with other troops on a fleet of steamers and moved down the Mississippi River. The steamer Fort Wayne carrying the Seventy-sixth, was fired into in the night by a band of Guerrillas from the Arkansas shore. Two men were wounded and the boat disabled. The Regiment landed in the morning and burned the buildings on the plantations in the vicinity. The disabled boat was towed down the river with the fleet to Young's Point, Louisiana, where it landed May 17th.
On the 18th the Regiment marched across the Point to the river below Vicksburg and embarked for Grand Gulf, and returned to Young's Point on the 29th and immediately embarked for Chicasaw Bayou, on the Yazoo River, at which place it debarked on the same day; was engaged in closing up the lines in the rear of Vicksburg until after the charge, when it was placed on the left of the besieging lines, and bravely held its place close under the Rebel guns until the final surrender July 4th. On the 5th of July the Regiment moved with Sherman's army against Jackson, Miss., skirmishing with the enemy at Big Black River and at Champion Hills. At Jackson the Rebels under Johnson made a stand and engaged our forces from the 12th to the 16th, the Seventy-sixth occupying the extreme right of the attacking forces.
On the morning of the 17th the city was found vacated by the Rebels and the Union troops occupied it immediately. The Regiment left Jackson July 21st and arrived at Vicksburg on the 23d, remaining there until August 11th, when it embarked and moved down the river to Natchez, landing there on the 12th. Remained there in camp until the latter part of November, when it was ordered back to Vicksburg, where it went into camp about eight miles from the city at Camp Cowan.
Enjoyed life at this camp until January 31, 1864, then moved about three miles to Camp Hebron. On February 3d the Seventy-sixth started with General Sherman on his Meridian campaign and was on the move continually until March 4th, when the expedition returned and the Regiment rested at Camp Hebron until April 5th, when it moved to Big Black River Bridge, and was on duty there until April 27th, when it returned to Vicksburg and camped on the high hills surrounding the city.
On the 4th of May the Regiment accompanied an expedition, commanded by General McArthur, to Yazoo City, and participated in the battles of Benton, Vaughn's Station and Deasonville, and drove the enemy from Yazoo City, and occupied the place several days. On the night of May 17 a large portion of the city was burned. The Regiment returned to Vicksburg May 21, and occupied its camp on the hills until June 26, when it was moved to Mount Albans, on the railroad between Vicksburg and the Big Black River. On the 28th moved back to Vicksburg and camped near its old quarters. On July 1, 1864, the Regiment started on an expedition to Jackson, commanded by General Slocum. On its return the command was met between Jackson and Clinton by the enemy, and a sharp battle was fought on the 6th, and renewed on the 7th, when the Seventy-sixth, which bore a prominent part in the engagement, was cut off from the balance of the command, but cut its way out, losing one hundred and two men, sixteen of whom were reported killed and left on the field, and eighty-six wounded and missing. The Regiment returned to Vicksburg July 9, much fatigued. On July 29 the Regiment embarked, and was run down the river on a marine boat to Morganzia; landed there, and remained camped along the levee until August 23, when it was embarked and was transported down the river to Port Hudson; landed and marched, with five days' rations, in great haste, night and day, to Clinton, expecting to annihilate the enemy in that vicinity, but he fled before the Yankee hosts. The Regiment returned to Morganzia, arriving there August 29, foot-sore and weary.
On September 3 the Regiment embarked on the steamer Nebraska, and moved up the Mississippi River to the mouth of White River, landed and camped on the Arkansas shore, and remained until October 18, when it was ordered to Memphis, Tenn., but returned October 28, and occupied quarters there until November 7, when it embarked and moved up White River to Duvall's Bluff, Arkansas, where it built neat log cabins, and fixed to stay; but, in obedience to orders, it broke up its pleasant camp on the 28th , embarked, and was landed at Memphis, Tenn., on the 30th, and camped on the environs of the city; remained there until December 31, 1864, and was then ordered to embark on the steamer Niagara for New Orleans, at which place it arrived January 4, 1865, and went into camp a few miles above the city, at Kenner, behind the levee, where the mud was almost fathomless. Remained there until February 12, when the Regiment was ordered to embark on Gulf steamers and proceed across the Gulf to Mobile Point. The Regiment was divided, and carried on three different crafts. The George Peabody carried the Regimental Headquarters, with four companies of the Seventy-sixth, and parts of other regiments, and a large number of horses, mules and wagons. A terrible storm on the Gulf nearly wrecked the craft. The horses, mules and wagons were consigned to the deep, and the boat was barely gotten back to the Mississippi River with its human freight. Went back to New Orleans, crossed over to Lake Pontchartrain, embarked on the steamer Alice Vivian, and moved by the lakes to Fort Morgan, and from there to Fort Barrancas, near Pensacola, Florida, where the Regiment was again united, February 18, and went into camp, and remained there until March 11, when the camp was moved to Pensacola. On March 20, the Regiment started with General Steel's expedition to Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, near Mobile Alabama. Traveled through pine swamps, corduroying the quicksand roads as it moved along, and fighting the enemy in front, until April 1, when the Army approached Blakely, and on the 2nd drove the enemy inside his fortifications. General Steel's forces united with General Canby's and General Granger's, from Fort Morgan. On April 8 Spanish Fort was captured, and April 9 the Seventy-sixth participated in the charge on Fort Blakely, capturing the entire garrison. The colors of the Seventy-sixth were the first planted on the enemy's works. The Regiment lost in this, the last battle of the war, seventeen killed and eighty-one wounded. Among the latter was the colonel of the Regiment, who was painfully wounded while gallantly leading his men in the assault.
The Regiment camped inside the fortifications until April 20, when it was transported to Mobile. On the 22d of April the regiment accompanied a fleet of steamers, loaded with soldiers, up the Alabama River, General Steel in command; landed at Selma, Alabama, April 28; remained there until May 11, and was then ordered back to Mobile, and camped near the city. Remained there doing duty until the latter part of June, when it was ordered to Galveston, Texas, where it remained until July 22, and was then mustered out, and ordered to Chicago, Illinois, where it was paid off and disbanded August 4, 1865.
The Regiment had traveled over ten thousand miles. Received one hundred and fifty-six recruits, who were transferred, on its muster out, to the Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry.