Civil War

Illinois Infantry 87th Regiment

Contributed by Patrick J. Anderson

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From: The Adjutant General of the State of Illinois and from the letters and diary of McAllister Hooker, private in A. Co. whose daughter, Amy Hooker would later marry Warner Anderson's (2ndLT Co A) son Chester Anderson.

        "The Eighty-seventh Regiment, Illinois Infantry Volunteers, was enlisted in August 1862.  It was composed of companies A and E, from Hamilton county, company H, from Edwards, company D, from Wayne, and companies C,B,F,G, I, and K, from White county. In the latter part of August, 1862, the companies went into camp at Shawneetown, Ill., where the organization of the Regiment was effected.  It was mustered in October, 3, 1862, the muster to take effect from the 2d day of August. January 31, 1863, it embarked on the two transports Freestone and May Duke for Memphis, Tenn., arriving there February 4th.  It was very inclement weather, and during this transfer and its first camp at Memphis, the measles broke out and prevailed with great virulence in the Regiment.  This disease cost the Eighty-seventh 250 men in dead and disabled. While at Memphis, the Eighty-seventh, in company with the Sixty-third Illinois, made a raid on Hernando, Miss., capturing a great deal of property, and putting a stop to the incursions of Colonel Bligh's partisan Confederate Cavalry. May 9th, 1863, the Eighty-seventh, and Sixty-third Illinois Regiments embarked on the steamer Crescent City from Memphis, and arrived at Young's Point, La., May 11th. At this place the regiment was actively engaged in picket and fatigue duty, repairing the corduroy road, until the night of the 21st of May, when it crossed the Mississippi river at Warrenton, and went into bivouac in the hills above the town. the next morning the Eighty-seventh and Sixty-third Illinois Regiments, in Brigade commanded by Colonel McCown, of the Sixty-third Illinois, were assigned to General McArthur's Division, on the left of the line of battle.  Here they closed up the gap on the extreme left of the line of investment, and remained for six hours under a steady fire of shot and shell from the enemy's works.

        On the 23rd the whole Regiment was on duty at Warrenton, where it remained until June 23rd, when it was assigned a position in the Second Brigade, General Slack's; Twelfth Division, General Hovey's; Thirteenth Corps, General John A. McClerand's; and took its place in the trenches, until the capture of the city. On the night of July 4th, it moved out on the road to Jackson, Miss., and participated in the battles before and after reaching that place. July 20th, 1863, the Regiment marched back to Vicksburg, and on the 25th of July embarked for Natchez.  Here it made an excursion back into the country to Kingston, capturing a vast pile of Confederate cotton. August 10, 1863, In company with the Forty-seventh Indiana, it embarked for New Orleans.  These were the first Western troops making the descent of the Mississippi River.  Here the Second Brigade-Slack's-was assigned to the Third Division of the Thirteenth Corps.
September 13, 1863, found the Regiment at Brashear City, La.  While here the Colonel, John E. Whiting, resigned on account of ill health, Colonel John M. Crebs taking command officially, as he had been the commander virtually
after the regiment arrived at Memphis, Tenn. During September and October the Regiment was engaged in the movements along the Atchafalaya and Teche Bayous, being in the affairs at Grand Coteau and Vermillionville, La.
In November, 1863, the Regiment was mounted on the stock of the country-mustangs, Mexican, ponies and mules-it rode everything except steers-and were occupied in scouting duty about Franklin and New Iberia, La.   By strict attention to business, good judgment as regards horses, dash and energy, it was the best mounted Regiment in the Department of the Gulf in less than three months.

        In February, 1864, with the First Louisiana, it formed the Third Brigade, Colonel H. Robinson commanding, in the Cavalry Division of the Department of the Gulf, in command of general A. L. Lee. March 14, 1864, the Eighty-seventh led the cavalry movement from Franklin, La., on the Red River campaign. April 7th it was actively engaged at the battle of Wilson's Hill, losing about 30 men in killed and wounded. On the 8th of April it took part in the battle of Sabine Cross Roads, or Mansfield, and was the only Regiment, in that disastrous defeat, that left the field in regimental formation.  It stood on the ground while the Nineteenth Corps formed its line of battle behind it.  In this battles Colonel H. Robinson, First Louisiana, our Brigade commander, was wounded, and Colonel John M. Crebs, Eighty-seventh Illinois, was placed in command of the Brigade.  On the 9th the Regiment was in the battle of Pleasant Hill. On the retreat from Sabine Cross Roads to Alexandria the Eighty-seventh was either in the front, flank or rear of the retreating column, and constantly engaged with the enemy's skirmishers. May 13th it was in the advance, and continually under fire in the movement from Alexandria to Simsport, on Atchafalaya Bayou, being in the battle of Marksville on the 15th of May. On May 21 the Regiment went into camp at Morganza Bend La., where it remained during the summer and fall, engaged in foraging, scouting, and almost constant warfare.  Part of this time it was on the steamer Baltic, one of the Marine Brigade boats.  During these months the Regiment was kept busy scouting and fighting along the network of bayous between the Mississippi river on the east and Atchafalaya on the west; Red River on the north and Bayou Plaquemine on the south.  There was no part of that country it did not know thoroughly. It fought on Bayou Gross Tete, Bayou Letsworth, Bayou Manguine, Bayou Atchafalaya and along the lakes of Old river. It captured more prisoners, horses and stores-destroyed more Confederate property-than all the combined forces camped at Morganzia. In the first part of August, 1864, Captain Thomas Sheridan, with a detachment of about 50 men from the Regiment, was surrounded and captured by a largely superior force of the enemy, near Williamsport, La.  This was the only loss the Regiment sustained by capture. September 4th, 1864, the Regiment embarked on the steamer Ohio Belle for White River Island.  Here it remained until January, 1865-three companies having been detached for duty at St. Charles, Ark. 

        In January, 1865, the Regiment moved to Helena, Ark., where it remained doing scouting service until mustered out June 16th, 1865, and ordered to Springfield, Illinois, where it arrived June 24, 1865. The regiment was paid off, and disbanded at Camp Butler, July 2, 1865."
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Details of some of this action can be found in the letters and diary of McAllister Hooker, private in A. Co. whose daughter, Amy Hooker would later marry Warner Anderson's (2ndLT Co A) son Chester Anderson.


      "The 87th was an understrength regiment as it had suffered significant losses before it reached combat from Measles while training in Memphis TN. At Vicksburg the 87th worked on the cordurroy road and then spent some uneventful days in the trenches on the south side of the city, then as the surrender took place the 87th was involved in several hard marches toward Jackson, Mississippi and back to Vicksburg which were remarkable for the number of stragglers that fell out inside enemy territory. The battle at Wilson's Hill was a preliminary skirmish to the two battles to take place in the following days.  The Third brigade (87th in the front) was leading the advance of General Bank's Union Army up the road toward Shreveport.  Upon meeting the forward units of General Taylor's Southern Army just north of the town of Pleasant Hill the brigade deployed on both sides of the road to force the enemy position.  The Eighty-Seventh was on the right. The 1st Louisiana Cavalry (a black regiment) was the other half of the brigade and took up position on the left of the road.  After a firefight the 87th regiment exhausted its supply of ammunition and was forced to retire several dozen yards.  Reinforcements arrived from the other cavalry brigades and the march continued to the North. The Third Brigade began the next days battle in reserve, probably to allow them to re-supply. Robert H. Carey, the husband of Eliza Cottingham, McAllister's wife's sister, was killed at this battle from a gunshot wound to the head. The Union Army had advanced northward from Wilson's Farm and upon reaching the main body of the Southern Army at Mansfield had deployed to form a battle line.  At this position they had no water supply.  The deployment took considerable time because the Union Army was stretched out in a single column on the road to the South.  Before the Union troops could finish moving up C.S.A. General Taylor ordered an attack to take place while he held the numerical advantage.  The battle resulted in a route for the South.  Many Northern regiments were nearly completely eliminated. The Eighty-Seventh began the battle in reserve and after the defeat elements of it formed and reformed several battle lines along the road back from Mansfield to Pleasant Hill to cover the retreat of the defeated Union forces.  This battle is
famous for the chaos that resulted when the retreating Union forces overran the wagon trains that were supplying the Union Army along the narrow forested road.


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