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Montgomery County War History

Taken from "The History of Bond & Montgomery Counties"
by William Henry Perrin 1882

Submitted by Debbie Quinn

Many of the pioneers of the county had participated in one or the other of these wars, and in the Indian wars of the frontier. As boys, they had fought savages with their mothers and sisters in their cabins; in youth and ripe manhood they had fought them in ambuscade and in open fields, and felt themselves a match for any foe, white or red. But it was several years after the close of the war of 1812 before the whites took possession of what is now Montgomery County, and hence it cannot be said that the county participated in our last war with Great Britain.

The Black Hawk War -

This was the first conflict in which the people of Montgomery County were called upon the take part. As soon as the war had assumed a serious aspect, Col. Stillman led a small force against the savages, but was signally defeated by overwhelming numbers. Upon the defeat of Stillman, Gov. Reynolds deemed it expedient to call out troops to defend the more exposed settlements of his State, and at the same time check the operation of Black Hawk. He called for volunteers to rendezvous at Peru, in La Salle County, and in response, Dr. Levi D. Boone, a scion of the old Daniel Boone stock, recruited a company in Montgomery County, and was sworn into service April 20, 1832. From the “Rountree Letters” published in the Hillsboro Democrat, we copy the muster rollof this company, and of a company made up subsequently by Cat. Rountree. The roll of Boone’s company is as follows:

Levi D. Boone, Captain
James G. Human, 1st Lt.
Absalom Cress, 2nd Lt.
C.B. Blockberger, 1st Sergeant
M.H. Walker, 2nd Sergeant
Israel Fogleman, 3rd Sergeant
William McDavid, 4th Sergeant
J. Prater, 1st Corporal
A.T. Williams, 2nd Corporal
C.S. Coffey, 3rd Corporal
Newton Street, 4th Corporal


William D. Shirley
Peter Cress
George E. Ludwick
George W. Conyers
A.H. Knapp
J.B. Williams
John Crabtree
Eastin Whitten
Samuel Peacock
Michael Ternan
Robert A. Long
E. Kilpatrick
Daniel Steel
Thomas J. Todd
Johnson Hampton
Stephen Killingworth
McKenzie Turner
Samuel Ishmael
James Brown
Samuel Briggs
James Hawkins
Harrison Brown
Benjamin R. Williams
Eli Robb
James Young
John K. McWilliams
James M. Rutledge
Thomas Mansfield
William Griffith
James Grisham
Benjamin Holbrook
William Jordon
William Roberts
Barnabas Michaels
Joshua Hunt
Hiram C. Bennett

They served through the campaign for which they volunteered [one month] and were mustered out May 28, 1832, at the mouth of Fox River.

The Indians being still far from subdued, the Governor made another call for troops, and under this second call, Hiram Rountree raised a company in this county, of which the following is the roll:

Hiram Rountree, Captain
John Kirkpatrick, 1st Lt.
Thomas Philips, 2nd Lt.
A.K. Gray, 1st Sergeant
John Stine, 2nd Sergeant
Samuel Jackson, 3rd Sergeant
Unknown, 4th Sergeant
Spartan Grisham, 1st Corporal
Malachi Smith, 2nd Corporal
Thomas McAdams, 3rd Corporal
Thomas Edwards, 4th Corporal


Luke Lee Steel
Thomas Sturtevant
George Harkey
Jacob Rhodes
John McCurry
Malcom McPhail
A. Forehand
John M. Homes
John K. Long
Joseph Burke
William Harkey
Alfred Johnson
David T. McCullock
Samuel Paisley
William Young
Willam Jones
Thomas Evans
J.M. McWilliams
John Hanna
John Brown
Jesse Johnson
Samuel Bennett [Quartermaster]
C.C. Aydelot
Thomas Wood
Thomas Johnson
James Cardwell
Thos. Early
Willis Rose
Zeb Shirley
W.S. Williams
Thomas C. Hughes
John Hart
S.W. Booher
Alexander Gray
Thomas W. Heady
John Corlew
Harace Mansfield
Thomas Potter
John Briggs
J.W. Wilson
D.M. Williams
David Copeland
James Potter
James Wilson
Thomas Gray
James M. Berry
John Slater
Thomas Williford
James Lockerman
Robert McCullock
John Duncan
Levi D. Boone [Surgeon]
William Griffith
Cleveland Coffey
William McDavid

The men, so far as they were able furnished their own arms, horses and other accouterments, and marched to the place of rendezvous near Peru, where they arrived about the 20th of June, 1832. The company continued in the service until the defeat of Black Hawk at Bad Ax, which terminated the war.

The Mexican War:

After the close of the Black Hawk war, Montgomery County remained at peace with all mankind until Mexico ruffled the feathers of the American Eagle. The war with Mexico grew out of the annexation of Texas, formerly of province of Mexico, to the United States. Texas had revolted from Mexico and at the battle of San Jacinto, where her army had captured Santa Anna, then Commander-in-Chief of Mexico, sand most of his army had forced him to acknowledge her independence. Mexico however, paid no attention to this acknowledgment, but continued the guerrilla warfare, and used every means to annoy the Texans. Many people from the States had settled in Texas, and propositions from this time on were made by them to admit Texas into the Union. These propositions were favored by the Democratic party, but strongly opposed by the Whigs. In the Presidential campaign of 1844, the annexation of Texas was made one of the chief issues of the contest, and Mr. Polk, the Democratic Candidate, was elected. This was taken as an endorsement of the question by the people, and early in the year 1845, Texas was admitted into the sisterhood of States. Mexico at once broke off all diplomatic relations with the United States, called home her minister and prepared for war, which soon followed.

Illinois, with that spirit of patriotism that has always characterized her, responded heartily to the call for troops. Under an act of Congress, the President was authorized to order out 50,000 men, and Illinois was required to furnish three regiments. These were made up without delay, and rendezvoused at Alton. The First Regiment was commanded by the brave Col. John J. Hardin, of Jacksonville, who fell in the battle of Buena Vista, in the same charge with the lamented Clay and McKee, of Kentucky. The Second Regiment was commanded by Col. Bissell of the southern part of the State, and contained a large proportion of Germans, while the Third Regiment was commanded by Col. Forman, of Vandalia. It contained a Company from Montgomery County ninety-six strong, under the following commissioned officers:

James C. McAdams, Captain
Thomas Rhodes, 1st Lt
John Burk 2nd Lt
John Curlew , 3rd Lt

The names of the private and non-commissioned officers cannot now be given. Many of them are dead, and others have moved away and are forgotten. Under the second call for troops, Illinois furnished another regiment, which was commanded by Col. Baker of Cairo. These four regiments comprise the quota of Illinois in the Mexican war, and formed the starting point for the numbering of her regiments in the late civil war-her first regiment being known as the Fifth Infantry.

Civil War:

After the close of the Mexican War, the country remained in comparative peace for more than a decade. A storm, however, had been gathering, and more than once had threatened to burst in fury upon the country, but after spending itself in low-muttered thunder, had passed over. But the political atmosphere was still heavy and oppressive, and it required no prophet to foresee the approaching tempest. The great question of slavery, which had been in agitation for a quarter of a century, culminated in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency in 1860, by a party supposed to be hostile to Southern institutions, and the result was the “Great Rebellion” a civil war without parallel in the annals of history.

The ninth Illinois Infantry, was the first regiment that drew on Montgomery for troops. Company C, of the 9th, was made up almost entirely in this county, and the Lt Col. Of the regiment, Judge J.J. Philips, is too well known to our readers to require any eulogy here. The commissioned officers of Company C were:

Jacob Miller, Captain
A.J. Sheldon, 1st Lt.
George Short, 2nd Lt

The latter was killed in battle Nov 23, 1864, and John Droesch promoted to 2nd Lt. Capt. Miller, Lt. Sheldon and Droesch, were mustered out with the regiment July 9, 1865.

The Ninth Infantry was one of the six regiments which was allotted to Illinois under the President’s first call for 75,000 men for three months. It was organized at Springfield, and mustered into the service April 28,1861, when it was ordered to Cairo, and brigaded under Gen. B.M. Prentiss. At the end of its three-months’ service, about five hundred of its men re-enlisted for three years, and on the 26th of July, 1861, was mustered into the United States’ service. The zeal with which recruiting was kept up during the summer of 1861 enabled the Ninth to number 1,040 men by the 1st of September. The regiment was ordered to Paducah, KY, where it passed the winter, engaging in numerous expeditions in West4ern and Southern Kentucky. In February, it moved up the Tennessee River, and as a part of Col. McArthur’s brigade, participated in the battle of Fort Donelson, in which it lost thirty-five men killed, and had 166 wounded. March 6, 1862, it embarked for Paducah, from Nashville, where it had been for some time, and proceeded to Pittsburg Landing. It engaged in the battle of Shiloh April 6, and sustained a loss of sixty-one killed and 287 wounded. Out of the twenty-six commissioned officers who went into action, twenty-one were either killed or wounded.

The Ninth, during the advance on Corinth, formed a part of the brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. R.J. Oglesby, and on the evacuation of Corinth, was attached to the Third Army Corps, under the command of Maj. Gen. John Pope, and pursued the retreating enemy to Booneville. In the Battle of Corinth, October 3 and 4, it lost nineteen killed and eighty-two wounded and fifty-two prisoners. After this the regiment served mostly in Mississippi, where it performed the most arduous service. The Adjutant General’s report of the State, from which these facts are gleaned, sets down the number of battles and skirmishes, in which the Ninth participated, at 110, beginning with Saratoga, KY, October 15, 1861, and ending with “near” Neuse River, N.C., April 10, 1865. The regiment was mustered out of the service July 9, 1865 and discharged.

The One Hundred and Seventeenth Illinois Infantry received a company from the county, principally from Hillsboro, and the immediate vicinity. This was Company B, and was officered as follows:

Robert McWilliams, Captain
Frank H. Gillmore, 1st Lt
George W. Potter, 2nd Lt

McWilliams was promoted to Major, and resigned January 29, 1865. Gillmore was promoted to Captain, Potter to 1st Lt, James M. Truitt to 2nd Lt and all mustered out with the regiment August 5, 1865.

The One Hundred and Seventeenth was organized at Camp Butler, in September, 1862, by Col. R.M. Moore, and mustered into the service by Capt. Washington, of the United States Army, on the 19th of the same month. It left Camp Butler on the 11th of November for Memphis, Tenn., where it arrived on the 17th, and where it remained until July, 1863, when it was sent to Helena, Ark., but soon after returned. It was next [in December] sent against Gen. Forrest in Western Tennessee, and, in a skirmish with him at La Fayette, lost three men killed. It was engaged in the operations around Vicksburg, and served in Mississippi, Louisana and Arkansas, and September 19, 1864, arrived at Jefferson Barracks. For two months it operated in Missouri, returning to St. Louis November 19, when it embarked for Nashville, Tenn., and took position in the works there December 1, 1864.

It was engaged in the battle of Nashville December 15 and 16, and took part in the pursuit of Hood’s army. Afterward it proceeded to New Orleans, where it arrived January 17, 1865. It participated in a number of battles and skirmishes, ending in the capture of Blakely on the 9th of April. It marched for Montgomery April13, and then to Camp Butler, IL, where it was mustered out of service August 3, 1865 by Capt. James A. Hall.

The regiment, during its term of service, traveled by rail 778 miles; by water, 6,191 miles, and marched 2,307 miles.

The One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry had also a company from this county, Daniel W. Munn, of Hillsboro was Adjutant of the regiment, and Company D was from Montgomery County, and went out with the following commissioned officers:

L.R. Slaughter, Captain
E.T. Somers, 1st Lt

J.W. Newberry, 2nd Lt - resigned July 23,1864, and Somers promoted to Captain in his place, and as such mustered out with the regiment July 12,1865. Louis Wagner was promoted to 1st Lt, in the place of Somers, and mustered out as such. Second Lt Newberry died September 3, 1863, when James M. Boone became 2nd Lt, and was mustered out with the regiment.

This regiment was organized at Alton, and mustered into service September 4, 1862, by Col. Richmond, who served as its Colonel until March 3, 1864, when he resigned. It served in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and participated in the siege of Vicksburg. It took part in the capture of Little Rock, Ark., and in the fight at Clarendon, Ark., June 26, 1864. It was in active service from the time of its enlistment until the close of the war, and on the 12th of July, 1865, it was mustered out and discharged.

The 143rd Infantry, enlisted for 100 days, contained a company [H] from Montgomery, which was officered as follows:

James G. Seward, Captain
William R. Truesdell, 1st Lt
George P. Fowler, 2nd Lt.

The regiment was organized at Mattoon, and mustered into service June 11, 1864, for 100 days, under the command of Col. D.C. Smith. It served in Tennessee and Arkansas and on the 10th of September returned to Mattoon, where on the 26th it was mustered out of service.

The First Illinois Cavalry was represented by a company from the county, viz: Company E. Its commissioned officers were as follows:

Paul Walters, Captain
Isaac Skillman, 1st Lt
Morgan Blair, 2nd Lt

All were mustered out with their regiment. The First Calvary was organized July 1, 1861, and entered the service for one year. Of its operations we have no account, as the Adjutant General’s Report of the States gives none, beyond it muster-roll, and that it was mustered out July 12,1862, at the close of its term of service.

Additional to the foregoing, Mr. Coolidge furnishes us the following, as the “war history” of Litchfield and immediate vicinity: “News of the firing on Fort Sumter was caught from the wires on Sunday evening, and the fuller details came the next day in the morning dailies. A call was instantly issued for a public meeting in the evening, at Empire Hall. The hall was crowded with men. Speaker after speaker was called to address his fellow-citizens, and declare his sentiments as to the Republic. There was but one opinion. War had begun. Force must be repelled by force, and forty men responded that evening to call for 75,000 troops to preserve the Union. In three days, the company had a hundred and twenty rank and file, and with B.M. Munn as Captain, and E. Southworth and M. P. Miller as Lts., had departed to Springfield to become a part of the first Illinois regiment raised. For a few weeks the regiment was quartered at Alton, then ordered to Cairo, where Gen. Grant was in command. IT completed its extended period of enlistment at Mound City. The company saw no hostile flag, and heard no hostile bullet. Only the Captain and a few of his men re-enlisted for three years. The first exaltation of feeling was over, and the soldiers came home, some to enter other organizations, and the most to labor for daily bread, for no county can long keep on the field over four per cent of its population.

“The Three Months” volunteers being in the field, steps were taken to enlist a company for three years. The attempt was speedily successful, and under Delos Van Deuzen, Captain, and L.G. Perley and P.G. Galvin, Lts., and R.W. Short, 1st Sergeant, the company was mustered into service at St. Louis June 16, 1861, as Company H, Sixth Missouri Volunteers, Col. Blood commanding. No regiment was then forming in Illinois. This Litchfield preferred to go into a foreign regiment, if it was necessary, in order to gain a recognized military status. Guarding Pilot Knob until November, the regiment then proceeded to Springfield, via St. Louis and Tipton, forming a part of the army under Fremont, which this leader marched to fight Gen. Price, but which Hunter led into pacific quarters, under the shelter of St. Louis. Wintering at Otterville, the Sixth, in April, departed for Pittsburg Landing, and joined the army before Corinth, being the First of the First Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, commanded in succession by Sherman, Blair and Logan, went down the railroad to Memphis. The regiment preserved this position through its campaigns.

In December 1862, the Sixth bore a bloody part in the assault on Chickasaw Bayou, leaving eighty men dead before the walls. This was the first sharp affair in which it participated. Then it assisted at the capture of Arkansas Post, and returning was detained by high water at Young’s Point, opposite Vicksburg, until May 1863, when it crossed the Mississippi thirty miles below, and advanced on Jackson. That town taken the regiment bore its flag through the battles which sent Johnson whirling to the rear, and cleared the way to the successful investment of Pemberton in his stronghold. When Vicksburg surrendered, the regiment assisted in the recapture of Jackson, and it was stationed in winter quarters on Black River until ordered to move to the relief of Chattanooga. The Sixth was the first regiment to cross the river against Mission Ridge, and was on picket duty for sixty consecutive hours. In November, the regiment marched to the aid of Burnside beleaguered at Knoxville, going light, without baggage or provisions, and foraging for food while advancing forty miles a day. In the spring of 1864, it re-enlisted as veterans, such were furloughed home for sixty days, and Capt. Van Deuzen went back as Lt. Col. Commanding the regiment. Lt. Galvin was promoted to Major, and Sergeant R.M. Short was made Captain of his company. A portion of the winter, the regiment lay at Huntsville. In May 1864, the advance on Atlanta began and Company H saw bloody service at Resaca, Dallas and Kenesaw Mountain. July 22, 1864, its depleted ranks fought on the field where McPherson fell, and six days later burnt powder at Jonesboro, and Atlanta was fairly taken. Hood, throwing himself on Sherman’s communications, the latter marched to the north until his antagonist was beyond the Tennessee, and too far from his base of supplies to be troublesome. Then leaving him to the stern mercies of Gen. Thomas, Sherman disappeared in the direction of the sea, to reach tide-water about Christmas. The Sixth led the sharp assault of Fort McAlister, whose capture restored the connection between the army and the fleet sent to meet it with indispensable supplies.

The regiment was Columbia, and winning fields by rapid marching even more than by fighting; fired its last shot on Goldsboro, and was present at the surrender of Johnston at Raleigh; having kept step to the music of the Union in a hundred fights in nine States, and marched in proud triumph in the grand review at Washington, the regiment was honorably mustered out of service at St. Louis, in September, 1865, only a remnant having survived the perils of battle and the more deadly camp.

Many Litchfield men enlisted in companies recruited elsewhere. Some of them were with Zagonyi in his mad charge at Springfield, one against ten-dash indefensible by military rules, but in its consequences hardly less valuable than a battle gained. Others were surrendered at Lexington. They fought at Pea Ridge; they did Garrison duty at St. Louis and Camp Butler; they were in the gunboat service; they bled at Fort Donelson and suffered and lived through the horrors of Andersonville.

“In August, 1861, half a company of cavalry was enlisted here, and being refused admission to an Illinois regiment, completed an informal organization and became Company C, First Missouri Cavalry. While at St. Louis, the company received recruits from home until the ranks were full. James Barrett was elected Captain, a position from which he retired in a few months, on account of deafness. The regiment took possession of Lexington on Gen. Price’s retreat to avoid Fremont, and joined the latter’s army at Warsaw. His body guard and two companies of the First Regiment were sent forward to disperse a small force at Springfield, and Company C in Zagonyi’s famous charge learned they were once against ten. The company wintered at Leavenworth, and for two years were fighting Quantrell and the guerillas. AT Pleasant Hill, Quantrell lost seventy-five men, while the Federals were wakened by about a dozen killed and wounded. In 1863, the regiment entered Davidson’s Division at Clarendon, back of Helena, and slowly approached Little Rock, which was captured with slight loss. In 1864, the regiment then dismounted, formed the advance guard of Steele’s army to co-operate with Banks’ Red River expedition. The First Missouri was under fire forty days of the forty-one, while absent; on five days in severe battles. At the last one, at the crossing of the Saline, Kirby Smith lost his artillery, and Steele sacrificed 1,200 wagons on his retreat. In August, 1864, the regiment was discharged on the expiration of its term of enlistment. There re-remained in the city and its neighborhood only four or five of the riders who fought Quantrell.

“In 1862, E. Southworth began to raise the fourth entire company in the city. Isaac Skillman soon co-operated with him, and when the ranks were full, was elected Captain; M. Pack and J. Reubart, Lts. The company was assigned the post of honor in the Ninety-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Col. Day commanding, and being ordered to Kentucky, was captured by John Morgan, at Elizabethtown, and paroled and sent home. Being at length exchanged, the regiment was sent South and put on outpost duty near Galveston. Thence, in 1865, it was ordered to New Orleans, and saw active service at Mobile, where it bore an honorable part in the capture of Fort Blakely.

“Three entire companies raised here were incorporated in Missouri regiments, in addition to several detachments enlisted here, by Lts., Gurney, Henderson, Perkins and others. Lt. Perley was promoted to the Captaincy of Company K, and was killed by falling from a window in Memphis. Lts. White and Henderson, Pack and Reubart, and Sergeants Short, V. Hoffman, and private W. Edgar, rose to Captaincies.

“While the city thus sent her hundreds into the field, the men who could not go had an onerous duty to perform at home. A member of the Golden Circle visited a friend here in the critical time when trouble was apprehended in this county. “I understand,” said he, “that you have 4,000 stand of arms at the service of the Union League.” “Certainly, I will show you a specimen of our guns,” and going to a neighbor he borrowed his Ballard rifle. “This,” said he, “is a specimen of one-half our supply” and producing a sixteen-shooter Henry rifle and explaining its construction and efficiency, “this is the pattern of the other half.” The emissary of the Golden Circle was dismayed, and his report to the Order was instructive, and bore an obvious moral. Before this incident, parts of the Circle had been established in this county, and for a short time one met in the city. Military reviews or drills were held in the close neighborhood. At least three public addresses were made here by its orators, usually by way of a surprise, and the local speakers still live under an immeasurable weight of public odium. A Democratic Club was formed, which met each evening to hear read the latest war news, and invitation was sought to address it by the Colonel of the Golden Circle regiment, which, in military array, had stalked through Hillsboro. The invitation was refused, and only by an abuse of authority and courtesy was he permitted to ascend its platform. The club was so deeply offended that it never met again. It was about this date that no one was permitted to call himself a Democrat unless he was hostile to the further prosecution of the war. The writer saw and suffered from the zeal and malevolence of the disloyal element. But it is true that in proportion to their numbers, as many Democrats enlisted and served in the war as Republicans. Three of the four captains who raised companies here were Democrats, as were a majority of the rank and file.

“Isaac Skillman, in the spring of 1861, enlisted half a company of cavalry which became a part of an Illinois regiment. The command was taken prisoners at Lexington, paroled and sent home. D.W. Henderson, Belmont Perkins, Al Gurnee and others enlisted men here who were mustered into Missouri regiments. For a time the fervor for enlisting was such that volunteers, being refused in Illinois, went into Missouri regiments. At least 600 men were raised here, quite one-half the entire force supplied by the county, and the city, in draft times, received no credit for its sons fighting under the flags of other States.

“Litchfield responded promptly to each call for troops, and what sort of men she furnished can be seen in her record of pensioners, and on the headstones of national cemeteries. She did her duty-no town could do more-and the Divine thing, which is duty, is always great and always equally great. It is as great in the sentinel, pacing at midnight his narrow round, as in the General who gains his fame by intrepid foes to whom the day of battle is a time of joy.”

This comprises a very brief, and, perhaps, imperfect sketch of Montgomery County’s war history-a history that runs through three wars. How many men the county furnished to the national armies, in the late civil war, it is impossibly to say, as many enlisted in regiments organized in other States, and for whom Montgomery County received no credit. Those who survived the conflict, have their reward in the knowledge that the old flag still floats over all the States; those who fell in the fight, and rest in soldier’s graves, are embalmed in the nation’s history.


© Debbie Quinn