The Thirty-Ninth Regiment History
The call to arms came from the United States Congress and the legislatures of the Northern States. Spirits were high and the Union would truly be saved. Shortly after the attack on Fort Sumter individuals gathered to discuss the forming of companies. We missed the first call for troops. On May 3, 1861, President Lincoln authorized a second call for 500,ooo troops.
After the first battle of Bull Run, Governor Yates received notice that the Regiment has been mustered into the service of the United States. August 10, 1861, recruiting began in ernest.
We had a recruiting station at 135th and 82 St. There were some 300 men quartered in the old Republican Wigwam on Market Street in Chicago. The encampment was made on Indiana avenue near 26th Street,and named “ Camp Mather”. In October ,1861, we received orders to report to the Camp of Instruction at Benton Barracks, St Louis, Missouri, transportation being furnished via the Chicago, Alton, and St Louis Railroad.
On October 26th, we were assigned to join General Bank’s Division of the Army of the Potomac. The departure of the Regiment from St. Louis was deferred until October 31, 1861 the destination Hagerstown, Maryland.
The war was about to begin for the 39th Regiment. They were a part of the Army of the Potomac engaged in the Peninsula Campaign. They were assigned to Alpine Station to guard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot.
In early January, Stonewall Jackson led a Rebel force of about 15000 men with forty pieces of artillery down the Shenandoah valley. They crossed the Potomac river at Alpine Station. The 39th Illinois Regiment repulsed a brigade of the enemy holding them in check for several hours and made good their retreat under cover of darkness on January 3, 1862. They fought with the Rebels up and down the Shenandoah Valley. They participated in a victory over Stonewall’s Army at Winchester on March 23, 1862. They were ordered to Alexandria, Virginia on July 12th, 1862 where they were to rest after a march of over 360 miles. They were engaged with Lee’s Army in what has been recorded as the “ Seven Day’s Battle. The Regiment moved on toward their destiny at Fort Wagner, Drewry’s Bluff, Ware Bottom Church, Darbytown cross Roads, Deep bottom run, Fort Gregg and Appomattox Court House.