History of the 77th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Courtesy John Kenyon


This regiment was mustered in to the United States services Sept. 3, 1862 in Peoria IL, remained in camp there until Oct. 4th. It then proceeded by rail to Kentucky, where they disembarked, and proceeded on foot, because of the possibility of the train being sabotaged in unfriendly territory. It proceeded to Covington, and reported to Major-General Gordon Granger. Nov 20, 1862 the regiment embarked on steamer for Memphis; remaining there until Dec. 20th. The division was reorganized and reported to Major-General Sherman. Embarked at Memphis on the 20th and proceeded down the river with Shermans army for the capture of Vicksburg. The 77th occupied the extreme right of the line, and participated in the attack on the rebel works. After four days fighting the attack was abandoned, and the army proceeded to Millikens Bend La. Left there Jan. 5, 1863 and arrived at Arkansas Post on the 10th. Participated in the assault on the following morning, after a few hours hard fighting carried the place, capturing all it contained. The loss of the regiment there was 6 killed and 39 wounded some of the later, mortally. The regiment in this battle behaved admirably and was complimented by the commanding general for its gallant conduct.

The regiment remained with General Grant’s army during the entire campaign around Vicksburg, and the siege of the latter place, until its surrender. It was engaged in the action at Champion Hills May 17; Black River Bridge, May 19; first charge on Vicksburg, the 22nd and 23rd; losing in these engagements 20 killed, 86 wounded, and 26 missing. Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th of July, and the next day the regiment marched to Jackson, with the army under Sherman. Arrived July 9, and was under fire of the enemy at that place until the 16th, when Jackson was evacuated, and the 77th returned to Vicksburg, where it remained until Aug 25, when it embarked for New Orleans, where it remained until Oct 3. Left New Orleans at that time for western Louisiana; marched up the Red River, driving the enemy until Sabine Cross Roads was reached, on the 8th of April 1864, where it meet the enemy in force. The 77th belonged to the division under Gen. Ransom, which was ordered forward to support the advanced calvery. Before the army could be brought forward to their support the whole rebel army came down on them and overwhelmed the whole division. In this engagement the 77th suffered terribly; Lieut. Col. Webb was killed instantly, besides 176 officers and men killed, wounded and made prisoners, leaving only 125 men in the regiment for duty. On the next day Gen. A.J. Smith’s corps came up, and at Pleasant Hills another battle was fought, ending in the compete defeat of the rebels.

The regiment was with Gen. Canby’s army during the entire siege and capture of Spanish Fort, Blakely, and Mobile, and was under fire the whole time. It remained at Mobile until July 10, 1865 at which time it was mustered out of the service.



The 1879 Reunion of the 77th Illinois Infantry Regiment

Taken From the Henry Republican
Thursday, September 11, 1879

The seventh reunion of the 77th Illinois was held in Reuben Broaddus's Grove, 1 1/2 miles west of Varna, in this county, on Tuesday, Sept. 2d. The grove is a grand place, and perhaps the best spot in all its appointments in the county for a gathering of this character. The veterans are wildly scattered and considering that it is 17 years since they were mustered out of the service, it is a remarkable fact that from 80 to 100 could be found to "muster in" at this picnic. The day was delightful, and the welcome given the old soldiers by the people of that vicinity was most cordial, and an emphatic assurance that they and the cause for which they fought had not been forgotten. The attendance was immense, from 3000 to 4000 being upon the ground.

The former colonel, Gen. D. P. Grier presided. Rev. W. D. Shields of Lacon opened the day's program with prayer. A song of welcome by the Varna glee club was followed by the address of welcome pronounced by Capt. Benj. Warren, postmaster of Varna, and a captain in the 6th Massachusetts which so gallantly fought its way through Baltimore, in marching to the rescue of Washington, on April 18, 1861. His address was appropriate, soldierly, eloquent and suggestive, and received from the old major of the 77th, J. M. McCulloch, now probate judge of Woodford county, a feeling and fitting response in behalf of the regiment.

After more music, H. P. Ayres, the late adjutant of the regiment, but now cashier of the Mechanics National bank of Peoria, was introduced as the orator of the day, who delivered in an earnest, captivating and impressive manner the following Oration. (Due to the length of the oration, it will not be printed. If anyone wants a copy, please email me -- Nancy Piper)

The dinner was one of the notable things of the occasion. Six tables, 50 feet long each, had been arranged, handsomely set, and filled with everything choice for the refreshment of the inner man, and to this generous gift of the ladies, the soldiers and their families, and the multitude to the number of about 3000 were invited to "eat, drink and be merry." The provisions were very abundant, and a large amount left over after all had been served.

After dinner the soldiers formed a group, while the photographer Jesse Sawyer took their picture. The expense of the occasion was then figured up and the veterans responded, the deficit made up being about $50. The roll call and election of officers for the next two years was next in orde, and we give below the names of those present on this occasion:

ROLL OF THE VETERANS PRESENT

The following are the names of veterans of the regiment present by companies, and their post office:

OFFICERS OF THE REGIMENT.

COMPANY A

COMPANY B

COMPANY C

COMPANY D

COMPANY E.

COMPANY F

COMPANY H

COMPANY K

An election of officers was held after recording the names of those present, with the following result:

Knoxville, Peoria and Elmwood were spoken of for the next meeting, but by vote it was assigned to Elmwood, September 2, 1882.

THE TOASTS

The toasts were then read by President Grier:

1. "Our Dead Heroes." Responded to by Hon. George M. Bane.

Song, Howard Edminster, "The Sword of Bunker Hill."

2. "The Women of Our Country." Responded to Hon. J. T. Thornton.

3. "Men of 1861 and 1862." The toast was to have been responded to by Mrs. J. A. Buckingham, but her modesty prevented her from coming forward, her excuse being "she could not do the subject justice." The soldiers however, gave the lady three cheers and took the will for the deed.

Song by Clear Creek glee club, "Uncle Sam's Boys," some eight voices which was very finely rendered.

4. "The Army and Navy" This toast was responded to by John Swaney, who was connected with the navy. He read a capital paper.

Song by Roberts glee club. "Let the Hills and Vales Resound," which was good.

Song by H. Edminster, "Marching Through Georgia."

Resolutions of thanks were then offered for the dinner, the singing, Mrs. John Card's cheese etc. The member of the old 77th were asked to sing "Rally Round the Flag , Boys" as they used to sing it in camp, which they did with hearty unction, and with three rousing cheers, for the glorious day and the occasion, the exercises closed.

History of the Regiment

Was fully organized and mustered into the United States service, September 3d, 1862, at Peoria, Illinois. Remained in camp at that place until October 4th, at which time it proceeded to Covington, Kentucky, and reported to Major General Gordon Granger, commanding the army of Kentucky, who assigned it to duty in the division commanded by General A. J. Smith. Marched from Covington, with the division, October 17th, and reached Lexington on the 29th and Richmond, November 2d. Marched from that point on November 11th, and arrived at Louisville on the 17th. Nothing of any interest transpired during the sojourn of the regiment in Kentucky - there being no force of the enemy in the state at that time; and the campaign there was merely a march of about 150 miles into the interior, and march back again.

November 20th, 1862, the regiment embarked on steamer for Memphis, Tennessee, in company with the whole division, under same commander. Arrived at latter place, November 27th. Remained until December 29th. The division was re-organized and reported for duty to Major General Sherman. Embarked at Memphis, on December 20th, and proceeded down the river with Sherman's army, for the capture of Vicksburg. Disembarked in the Yazoo river, near Chickasaw Bayou, on the 27th. The 77th occupied the extreme right of the line, and participated in the attack on the rebel works. After four days' fighting the attack was abandoned, and the army embarked on their boats and proceeded to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana. At this place Major General McClernand arrived and assumed command of the army. He reorganized it into two corps - the 13th and 15th. The 77th was assigned to the 10th division, 13th army corps. Division commanded by General A. J. Smith, and corps by General McClernand.

Left Milliken's Bend, January 5th, 1863, and arrived at Arkansas Post on the 10th. Immediately disembarked, and, on the following morning, participated in the assault. After a few hours' hard fighting, carried the place, by assault, capturing all it contained. The loss of the regiment here was 6 killed and 39 wounded - some of the latter mortally. The regiment in this battle, behaved admirably, and was complimented by the commanding general for its gallant conduct. January 14th, again embarked, and proceeded to Young's Point, Louisiana. Arrived there on the 22, and went into camp, remaining until the 9th day of March, engaged in the digging on the canal across the point opposite Vicksburg. In March, changed camp to Milliken's Bend.

In the first part of April, the 13th corps marching from Milliken's Bend, for Grand Gulf. The 77th broke camp and moved forward about the middle of April. Crossed the river below Grand Gulf, on the last day of April, and marched all night, arriving at Port Gibson early on the morning of May 1st, and participated in the engagement there during the entire day. The regiment remained with General Grant's army during the entire campaign around Vicksburg, and the siege of the latter place until its surrender. The regiment was engaged in the actions at Champion Hills, May 17th, Black River Bridge, May 19th; first charge on Vicksburg, May 22d, and 23d, losing in these engagements, 20 killed, 86 wounded, and 26 missing. Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th of July, and the next day the regiment marched for Jackson, with the army under Sherman.

Arrived there July 9th, and was under the fire of the enemy at that place until the 16th, when Jackson was evacuated, and the 77th returned to Vicksburg. Remained in camp at Vicksburg until August 25th, when it embarked for New Orleans, where it remained in camp until October 3d. Left New Orleans at that time, for Western Louisiana. Marched up Bayou Teche, through Franklin to New Iberia, Louisiana. Camped there until December 6th, 1863, when it marched back to New Orleans. Lest New Orleans on the 17th December, on steamer, and disembarked at Paso Cavalo, Texas, on the 20th December. Remained in camp until the last of February, then embarked on vessels and were transported to Berwick Bay, Louisiana. From there marched through to Alexandrea, Louisiana, with the army, under General Banks, bound for Shreveport. From Alexandria, marched up Red river, driving the enemy until Sabine Cross Roads was reached, on the 8th of April, 1864, where it met the enemy in force, and was immediately engaged.

The 77th belonged to the division under command of General Ransom, which division was first ordered forward to support the advance cavalry. Before the army could be brought forward to their support the whole rebel army came down on them, and overwhelmed the whole division. In this engagement, the 77th suffered terribly, Lieutenant Colonel Webb was killed instantly, by a musket ball through the brain, and 176 officers and men were killed wounded and made prisoners, leaving only about 125 men in the regiment for duty. On the next day General A. J. Smith's corps came up, and at Pleasant Hill another battle was fought, ending in the complete defeat of the rebels.

The regiment remained with General Banks throughout his retreat down Red river, and until he reached the Mississippi. Here it was ordered into camp at Baton Rogue, until the first part of August. At that time, with five or six other regiments, it embarked, and was transported to Dauphine's Island, under the command of General Gordon Granger. Here assisted in the reduction of Forts Gaines and Morgan, and then returned to Morganzia Bend, on the Mississippi. In October the regiment was ordered to New Orleans, for provost duty, and remained there until the first of March, 1865, when it was assigned to the first brigade, third division, 13th army corps, and transported to Mobile Point, where it joined General Canby's army for the capture of Mobile.

General Granger collected his 13th corps at this point, and during the month of March, moved up the peninsula towards Spanish Fort. The regiment was with General Canby's army during the entire siege and capture of Spanish Fort, Blakely and Mobiel, and was under fire during the entire time. The day following their entry into Mobile, the third division, in which the 77th served, marched out of the city and proceeded up the Tombigbee river, in search of General Dick Taylor's army. It proceeded up the river about 60 miles, when it was re-called to Mobile - the rebel forces throughout the country having surrendered. Remained in camp in Mobile until July 10th, 1865, at which time it was mustered out of service, and ordered to Springfield, Illinois, for final payment and discharge, where it arrived July 23d, 1865.

The 77th Illinois, during its term of service was engaged in 16 battles and sieges, and in every one of them carried itself with honor and credit to the state.