William R. Harrington

Company A, 116th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

William R. Harrington (1842-1928) was living in Oakley, Macon County, Illinois when he joined the 116th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on August 9, 1862. Having married the year before, his wife Catherine was then seven months pregnant and it looked as if William would not be there to see the birth of his first child.

The regiment trained at Camp Macon at the fairgrounds near Decatur during August and September. They were not mustered into Federal service until September 30, one day after the birth of George Riley Harrington. As the regiment did not leave for the front for another eight days, William would have been able to see his new son.

William was on crutches from an ankle injury when the regiment left November 8th on the Illinois Central Railroad in thirty-six common boxcars, headed for Memphis. They arrived at Cairo, Illinois the next day and transferred to the steamer Tigress, arriving at Memphis on the 11th.

William’s pension files states that he injured his ankle twice more trying to walk without his crutches, so it is unlikely that he was able to go with his regiment into Mississippi when they left on November 26 for what would turn out to be a "not-a-shot-fired" march. On December 13 the regiment returned to their camp at Memphis and were treated to a bucketful of whiskey per company, each mess receiving a quart. They would have only seven days to prepare for a trip down the Mississippi to Vicksburg, but William was not destined to go with them. On December 17th, William’s messmate Henry C. Bear, wrote, "William Harrington had a Chill yesterday and one this morning. He will not go with us. He has ben [sic] sent up to the hospital in town." William was discharged February 4, 1863 for disability.

Although William’s service with the 116th Illinois was short, he would recover enough to join the 12th Indiana Light Artillery in 1864 and serve for the remainder of the war.

After the war, William was rather restless. He homesteaded in Kansas and for a time was back in Illinois, before settling permanently in Buck Creek, Indiana around 1881. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post #496 was organized there in 1887, and William was a charter member. He attended the GAR national encampment at Washington, DC in 1892 and brought back an engraved, silver-handled cane that he carried proudly with him wherever he went.

He died March 26, 1928.

Submitted by his great-granddaughter, Carolyn Bridge Dennis

Submitted by [email protected]

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