The Eighty-fifth Regiment was organized at Peoria, about the first of September, 1862, at a time when the Governor was in need of troops, as the Union troops had been beaten back at Bull Run a short time before and Bragg was threatening Louisville, Ky., General Nelson being driven back to that point. The Eighty-fifth Regiment was one that was ordered to that point immediately after its organization, hence the members left their work, families and friends, and were hurried immediately to the forefront of the battle, for before they knew what dress parade was they opened the battle of Perryville by making a bayonet charge at 3 o'clock in the morning of that bloody day. After the battle the Regiment followed up Bragg's retreat to, and beyond Nashville, Tenn., to Mill Creek, where the Regiment was attached to General Sheridan's Division. When the army advanced on Bragg at Murfreesboro the Eighty-fifth was placed on post duty at Nashville and remained there doing train, police and post duty, and was called on to guard a train to the army during the battle of Stone River, which they succeeded in doing in time to take a hand in the fight for one day there. During the remainder of the time that the Regiment staid at Nashville but little occurred to or with it worthy of historical notice; but from the time the Regiment was relieved at Nashville, it was always found in the active part of the Army of the Cumberland until the close of the war, being one of the last regiments to leave the field at Chickamauga, and in the lead in crossing the Tennessee in pontoons, when the stars and bars were lowered from Missionary Ridge; and from there, with 100 rounds of cartridges in haversacks instead of bread, they were with the command that hastened to the relief of besieged troops at Knoxville, Tenn., returning to their camp at North Chickamauga, to remain until New Year's, 1864, when the Regiment moved to McAfee's Church, on the battlefield of Chickamauga.
During the winter of 1863 and 1864, the Regiment was stationed at or on the battlefield:
they were in the detail that made the reconnoissance against Dalton, Ga., at Rocky Faced Ridge, where we met with considerable loss in killed and wounded. After accomplishing the work assigned there, moved back and awaited the opening of spring and with it the campaign against Atlanta, where the Regiment every day for four months was in hearing of the rattle of musketry and the boom of cannon. It took active part in the battles of Resaca Rome, Dallas, Kenesaw, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta and Jonesboro, (the last fight of the Atlanta campaign), when the Regiment was detailed to escort 1,600 prisoners back to Atlanta.
The Regiment is deserving of especial mention at Rome, where they swam the Etowah river, floated their accoutrements over on rafts of rails, formed a skirmish line, drove the enemy from and run the stars and stripes on the court house before all the enemy had crossed the other river and burned the bridge. Also at Kenesaw and Peach Tree Creek, where the Regiment lost half of its available force.
After returning with the above mentioned prisoners, but a few days elapsed until the Second Division of Fourteenth Army Corps, (commonly called by the boys Jeff. C. Davis cavalry,) was detailed to clear Forrest from the line of communication back in Tennessee and marched after said command until it crossed the river at Florence on Mussel Shoals, at which place there was a skirmish in which the Eighty-fifth was again in front and met with slight loss. Then marching I don't know how many hundreds of miles, and wading rivers cold as ice, the command of which the Eighty-fifth was a component part, reached Kingston, Ga.. just in time to tear up the railroad to Atlanta, and start on the left wing of the march to the sea.
Was at Milledgeville at the session of the mock Legislature. Marched to Savannah and took part in the capture of that city of revolutionary notoriety, where the noble Pulaski fell.
Then, still occupying the left of Sherman's Army, started on the Carolina Campaigns, wading swamps covered with ice, where the tears were made to flow from the bravest of men by the severity of the cold water.
The Eighty-fifth Regiment was a part of the Fourteenth Army Corps from its organization until the close of the war, and performed its full share of duties, marches and battles of that Corps, wbich duties history will show no Corps in the service excelled and few equalled. Was present at the battle of Bentonville, the capture of Goldsboro and Raleigh and was doing picket duty when Sherman met the Confederate delegates to arrange the conditions of surrender of Johnston's Army, which act, when finally concluded, was followed by one of the grandest and most trying marches that any army ever made, from Raleigh to Richmond. The Eighty-fifth with the Fourteenth Army Corps, being on outside, made a march of something more than 35 miles per day for seven successive days, from there to Washington, and took part in the grand review at that place, rested a few days and was mustered out on the 5th day of June. A. D. 1865. Was sent to Springfield, Ill., and was paid off and sent back to friends and home on the 20th day of the same month.