This Regiment was organized at Camp Butler, Ill., November 19, 1861.
Moved to Shawneetown, Ill., November 25, 1861, and encamped until February 1862, when it moved to Paducah, Ky., and, from thence to Columbus, Ky., where the Regiment was divided-5 companies going to Trenton, Tenn., 5 to Memphis, and 2 companies remaining at Paducah and Bird's Point. During the spring and summer of 1862 the several detachments operated against the guerrillas, and were in several engagements, the most important of which was Dyersburg, Tenn., and Olive Branch and Coldwater, Miss.- in all of which it was successful, with a loss of 2 killed, 6 wounded and 1 taken prisoner.
Early in the fall of 1862, the detachments were again united at Memphis, and November 26, 1862, formed the advance of General Sherman's Army Corp, in its movements south towards Grenada, Miss.
In the latter part of December it was engaged, with others, in the pursuit of General Van Dorn, after his raid upon Holly Springs, engaging him for 7 consecutive days.
January 1863, the Regiment returned to Lagrange, Tenn., where it went into winter quarters, and operated against the numerous bands of partizan rangers. While thus engaged the Regiment, on one occasion, surprised and routed Richardson's command, near Covington, Tenn., capturing their entire equipage, ammunition, books, papers, etc.
Again, on the 29th March, a detachment of the Regiment was attacked, at midnight, by a superior force, and, although in a manner surprised, by a murderous volley poured into them while still sleeping, the command repulsed the enemy with effect-Lieutentant Wilson, and 8 men killed; Lieutenants Baker and Anderson and 29 men wounded. For the gallantry of the command a special order was issued, by General William S. Smith, complimenting officers and men.
April 1863, was engaged in the famous expedition which, under Colonel B. H. Grierson, made the tour through Mississippi and Louisiana. In this expedition the Regiment traveled about 800 miles, was engaged a number of times with the enemy; destroyed a vast amount of property, and arrived safely at Baton Rouge, La., May 2, 1863, after a continuous march of 17 days.
It operated under General Banks in the siege of Port Hudson, in June and July 1863.
June 2, 1863, formed a part of Colonel Grierson's expedition to Clinton, La. June 3, had a heavy engagement with the enemy, and returned to or near Port Hudson, La., June 4, with a loss of 2 killed, 4 wounded and 3 taken prisoner.
Port Hudson having capitulated, July 8, 1863, the Regiment embarked, July 19, on board steamers for Memphis, where it arrived the latter part of July 1863.
Moved in August to Germantown, Tenn., where it encamped until November 28, 1863, when it participated in Colonel Hatch's expedition to Covington, Tenn.; then to Lagrange, Tenn., there encountering General Forrest's forces. had a sharp engagement, but discovering the enemy was flanking around in the direction of Moscow, Tenn., the expedition was ordered to Moscow, where it arrived December 4, and had a heavy engagement, the Regiment sustaining a loss of 5 killed, 6 wounded, 20 taken prisoners and 2 missing. Routed the enemy, and drove them 15 miles, and returned to Germantown, Tenn., to its old camps, where it remained, operating against Generals Forrest and Chalmer's forces, until February 17, 1864, when it formed a part of General William S. Smith's expedition to West Point, Miss. There had a 3 days engagement with General Forrest's command and returned to Germantown, where it remained in camp until March 30, 1864, when the Regiment re-enlisted, as veterans, and ordered to Illinois, on furlough.
May 11, 1864, furlough having expired, the Regiment rendezvoused at Mattoon, Ill. Thence, moved to Memphis, Tenn., where it encamped until July, when 7 companies were ordered to proceed to Collierville, Tenn., to guard the railroad, until General A. J. Smith's expedition could move one and capture Guntown, Miss. Rejoined the Regiment at Memphis. Lieutenant E. Ball was killed, and 2 men captured, while on patrol duty at Collierville.
August 1864, all the effective part of the Regiment joined in General A. J. Smith's expedition to Oxford, Miss. August 13, had an engagement with General Forrest's command, at Hurricane Creek, Miss. Casualties, 3 men killed, 6 wounded.
The detachment that was left with the camps, at Memphis, participated in the fight with Forrest, when he made his raid into Memphis. Colonel M. H. Starr was mortally wounded, and 1 man slightly wounded, and Lieutenant Miller and 1 man captured.
The Regiment returned to White Station, Tenn., where it encamped until the first of October 1864, when it composed a part of General Hatch's expedition to march through West Tennessee to Clifton, on Tennessee River. There joined General Washburn's expedition of Infantry. The Infantry disembarked and moved in the direction of Lawrenceburg, Tenn. General Hatch's Division of Cavalry composed the advance guard. After 2 days march the Infantry returned to Clifton, and the Cavalry moved on to Lawrenceburg. Thence to Savannah, Tenn., and returned to Clifton, where it remained for a few days.
General Washburn's command of Infantry embarked on steamers, and returned to Memphis. General Hatch's Division of Cavalry moved rapidly to Pulaski, Tenn., where it encamped for a few days. On its arrival at Pulaski, the Sixth Illinois Cavalry was ordered back on a 2 days scout, on the Clifton road, and returned to the command at Pulaski. Then marched, with Division, down on Shoal River, near Florence, Ala., where it skirmished daily with General Hood's forces, while they were crossing the Tennessee River. Fell back, in advance of Hood's command, to Lawrenceburg, where it participated in a 5 hours engagement with the enemy. Then back to Columbia.
After crossing Duck River the command halted for a few days.
The Sixth Illinois Cavalry was ordered to move rapidly to Shelbyville, Tenn.; then cross Duck River, and move 20 miles down the river and cross at Pike Ford, and return to the command at Columbia. After 2 days march, arrived at Shelbyville; the third day, at Pike Ford. On arriving there it was ascertained that General Forrest's entire command had crossed the river, 6 miles below, the day before. By this time, the rebel scouts were discovered, in every direction. The Regiment being then almost in the rear of the entire rebel forces, the only chance to escape capture or annihilation was to swim the river and cut its way through, which was done with entire success. After crossing the river, the march was resumed, constantly skirmishing with the rebel patrol and flankers. After marching 18 miles, the Regiment camped so near the enemy that their fires could be seen, and they could be heard chopping wood. Next morning the Regiment resumed the march at one o'clock, and rejoined the command at Franklin, Tenn., at ten o'clock A.M. Its loss, on expedition, was 8 men missing. The battle of Franklin commenced at one o'clock, same day, in which the Regiment took an active part. After the battle was over, it marched to Nashville, Tenn., with the command, where it arrived about the last of November 1864.
December 5, 1864, the Regiment was ordered on an expedition to Glasgow, Ky., and returned to Nashville, December 13, and, on the 14th, was a part of the cavalry that charged and captured the two first redoubts, and 9 pieces of artillery, and a number of prisoners. This closed the first days fight. Lost 2 men killed, and 3 wounded.
On the morning of the 15th, the Cavalry was re-mounted, and moved on the right flank but, finding the country too rough, was compelled to dismount and fight on foot; and, while the Infantry engaged the enemy on the left and center, the Cavalry engaged it on the right. In the afternoon of the second day's battle, the enemy's lines were broken, and a general stampede ensued. The Cavalry was again re-mounted, and ordered in pursuit of the enemy. Had another engagement about dark, which terminated in the complete rout of the enemy. Pursued them to Florence, Ala., and there abandoned the pursuit.
Marched with the command from Florence, Ala., to Gravelly Springs, Ala., where it encamped until February 1865. Then moved to Eastport, Miss., where it remained until July 3, 1865, when it was ordered back to Nashville, Tenn. Then to Decatur, Ala. Then marched with General Hatch's expedition, to Montgomery, Ala., where it arrived July 25, 1865, and remained until the last of August, when it moved to Demopolis, Ala., remaining there 6 days. The Regiment was then divided-6 companies to remain, and 6 to march back to Mongtomery. Remained there until the last of September 1865, when the 6 companies at Montgomery were divided into detachments. Two companies marched to Opolika, Ala., 1 company to Tuskega, and the other 3 remained at Montgomery.
November 1, 1865, Regiment was ordered to march to Selma, Ala., to be mustered out of service.
Mustered out November 5, 1865, and ordered to Springfield, Ill, for final payment and discharge, where it arrived November 17, and received discharge November 20, 1865.