Militia Units of Chicago Before the War and the formation of Battery "B"
As war in the East reached westward, it
was time to look about and see what military material was still left in the
city. The old military companies had been enrolled in two regiments the 6oth
THE 60TH REGIMENT was now commanded by Colonel Joseph H. Tucker, Colonel Ezra Taylor having resigned. The balance of the field and staff offices were vacant. The companies composing it were the Chicago Light Dragoons, Chicago Light Guard, Emmet Guards, Montgomery Guards, Shield's Guards, U. S. Zouave Cadets, and the Chicago Light Artillery. The boundaries of the 6oth Regimental District were as follows: beginning at the northeast corner of fractional Section 33, 40, 14, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and running west along north line of Sections 33, 3, and 31, to the north branch of the Chicago River ; thence northerly up said river to west line of Township 40, 14, and Township 39, 14 ; thence south to southwest corner of Township 39, 14 ; thence east along south line of said Township 39, 14, to Lake Michigan ; thence northerly along said lake to place of beginning. The 60th Regiment consisted of the following companies:
THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT REGIMENT was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Shirley, its colonelcy being vacant by the death of Colonel William H. Davis. It's Major was W. H. Wallis, and there were no other regimental officers. It's companies were the Highland Guards, Washington Light Cavalry, Washington Rifles, Washington Grenadiers, and the Black Jager Rifles. These two regiments formed the Second Brigade of the Sixth Division, Illinois State Militia, commanded by Brigadier-General R. K. Swift, who had three aides with rank of major. These were William S. Johnson, Jr., John Ross and E. W. Griffin. Major Charles B. Brown was quartermaster. In January, 1861, the status of these several companies, formerly the pride and glory of Chicago was anything but satisfactory. The old militia system had borne heavily on both the time and finances of men and officers, and as the belief had been forced upon all that the showy glories of parade and drill did not compensate for a depleted purse or the possible neglect of more important duties, the military spirit had gradually died out, and the drill room had been abandoned.
THE CHICAGO LIGHT DRAGOONS, organized by
Captain Charles W. Barker, in April, 1836, and still commanded by him, had
rapidly risen in favor and popularity. With their scarlet hussar pelisses and
gay accoutrements, they formed a brilliant feature in a holiday parade. The
strict discipline and thorough training of Captain Barker had made them
proficient in each feature of company drill. But the money pressure had proved too
much for them. Now their equipment was seldom taken from the
racks where they lay in the old
THE CHICAGO LIGHT GUARD, organized by Captain J. B. Wyman, in February, 1854, was par excellence. For years the crack corps of the northwest. In the old Armory Light Guard Hall, in Couch's building, the company formerly drilled, and to be a guardsman then was to be envied by all less favored mortals. Now the few left, who were faithful to the tradition of their former greatness, occasionally drilled at the Armory building, under the leadership of Lieutenant George W. Gage. Forty-two Minie muskets, well kept and in good condition, a gallant prestige and unblemished name, were all the Light Guards could now bring to the service of the country. Below is a picture of a Lt. from the Guard.
THE EMMET GUARDS, organized May, 1834, by Captain Patrick O'Connor, and commanded as late as 1858 by Captain D. C. Skelly, as a corps was extinct. Dust and devouring rust had brought their forty altered over muskets to a state more formidable to friend than foe. They were allowed to keep ward and watch over the vacated rooms in the upper floors of the block on the corner of Randolph and Wells streets, where their owners once drilled with Irish energy. In the same rooms was another case of forty equally valuable muskets, carried for many years by the Montgomery Guards, the longest established company in the city. It's existence dating back to the spring of 1842, when it was organized by Captain Patrick Kelly. Under Captain Michael Gleason, it had maintained its reputation as one of the best Irish companies in the Northwest, from 1850 until three years before the breaking out of the war, when it succumbed to the pressure of hard times, and was now practically among the things of the past.
THE SHIELDS GUARDS, a company composed
mostly of mechanics, and organized
Resolved, That we, the Shields Guards of the City of Chicago, laying aside for the present our individual political predilections, and having in view only the interest and demands of our common country, tender our services as citizen soldiers, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the United States, to be placed in whatever position our country calls upon us to.
THE UNITED STATES ZOUAVE CADETS had disbanded soon after their return from their Eastern tour, and their arms had passed from their possession. Below is a picture of the Cadets from Haper's Weekly.
THE CHICAGO LIGHT ARTILLERY, one of the oldest and best of the city military companies was organized in 1854, with James Smith as captain, was alive and in good shape for duty; its officers being Captain, Ezra Taylor; First Lieutenant, Amos Grannis; Second Lieutenant, Darius Knights; Third Lieutenant, Cyrus P. Bradley. Fifty men were enrolled, and at their rooms at the Armory, corner Franklin and Cedar streets, were four brass six-pounders, with caissons and harness complete, all in excellent order. This company was made up of reliable material, and was conceded to be one of the best organizations of the kind in that branch of military service.
The companies described above constituted the 6oth Regiment, Illinois State Militia. Only one company the Artillery had both men and arms fit for immediate service. The Light Guard had arms, but no men; the Shields Guards had men, but worthless arms; and the remaining four companies were, to all outward appearance, extinct as organizations.
THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT REGIMENT, of the companies constituting the Washington Independent Regiment, the Highland Guards, organized May 10, 1855, still retained a military Organization. It's officers being John McArthur, captain, Alexander N. Raffen, first lieutenant, John Wood, second lieutenant. Captain Mc Arthur was an excellent officer, and the Highland Guards had ranked among the best of the city military companies. Unfortunately, it was now reduced to thirty five members, who still kept up their drill at their Armory in Lind's Block, South LaSalle Street. Where they had a neatly furnished reading room and a well selected library. The company offered their services "for the preservation of the Union and the enforcement of the laws." A few days after the shelling of Fort Sumter the Shields Guards immediately commenced extra drill, and took measures to fill their ranks. This company had no arms fit for service.
THE WASHINGTON LIGHT CAVALRY, a German company, commanded by Captain Frederick Schambeck, with Henry Stupp as first lieutenant, was composed of forty mounted men, each armed with carbine, sabre and pistol.
THE WASHINGTON RIFLES, Washington Grenadiers and Black Jager Rifles were also German companies. The Washington Rifles, commanded by Captain Fred. Mattern, with John Morat as first lieutenant, mustered twenty-five men, armed with United States rifles. Twenty men were on the roll of the Grenadiers, their officers being; Captain T. Weiler; First Lieutenant, John Schmidt and Second Lieutenant, Martz Franzen. The Black Jagers numbered twenty-two men, also armed with United States muskets. They were commanded by Captain M. Marx.
In addition to the companies
comprised in the two regiments, an independent company of Zouaves had been
organized in the city. James R. Hayden was captain, S. Hosmer, first
lieutenant; and B. F. Yates, Second lieutenant.
This corps was organized on the ruins of the Zouave Cadets, the drill and
uniform being the same. The Minie muskets and a brass mounted howitzer,
originally borrowed from
As a whole the united military organizations of the city, at the opening of 1861, could not muster over one hundred and fifty men, fully equipped according to their regulations. Four brass six-pounders, one mountain howitzer, about fifty good muskets, and as many inferior rides, constituted the arms ready for immediate service.
REORGANIZATION OF REGIMENTS, on the receipt of the news from South Carolina, the military spirit became freshly aroused. Old companies revived, and new ones sprung into life. During the first week of February, a meeting of citizens was held for the purpose of procuring arms from the state, and measures originated, in order to place the Highland Guards in proper condition for active service, if required. The first new military company formed was that of Captain Frederick Harding, which received the silk flag promised by J. H. McVicker to the " first company organized in Chicago for the support of the Government." He at the same time, pledging himself to "make one of twenty who will clothe the company during the war."
The Zouave Cadets also revived, the old members uniting with the already existing company of Independent Zouaves, under Captain Hayden. Measures were set afoot for the formation of a zouave regiment, and a call issued for the reorganization of the corps for sterner duties than had hitherto fallen to its lot. Following are the names Of the old Zouaves, who answered this call, among them those who proved through the coming years of strife that they were not Carpet Knights, but earnest, loyal and brave men., And that the discipline to which they had been subjected to was such as would stand the test of war. James V. Guthrie, Presly N. Guthrie, William Dehrend, Henry S. Wade, Charles H. Hosmer, James W. Dewitt, A. A. Bice, G. True, Samuel I. Nathans, Charles C. Smith, R. R. W. Lock, H. M. Olcott, Frank Rogers, W. B. Smith, L. B. Hand, William H Cutler, John A. Baldwin, Albert B. Hatch, Edwin L. Brand, I. B. Taylor, G. Q. White, L. L. James, William Inness, John C. Long, Charles Varges, John H. Clybourn, James A. Clybourn. Henry Kelly, William . Danks, John Parsons, James G. Mc Adams and Lucius Larrabee.
On the evening Of
On the 1st of February, the Hungarians, Bohemians and other Sclavic nationalities organized themselves into a rifle company, under the leadership of Geza Mlihalotzv, who afterward followed the flag of his adopted country from Missouri to Georgia, and finally laid down his life in its defense while leading a charge at Tunnel Hill. The old companies drilled diligently, and filled up their ranks during the early months of the year. Fearing, yet hardly believing, that war would come in earnest.
was fired on, and Governor Yates issued his proclamation, on April 15, calling
for volunteer troops to aid in preserving the Union,
arriving at Big Muddy Bridge, on the Illinois Central Railroad, about
on the afternoon of the 22nd, one section of the battery, under Lieutenant
Willard, was detached and, with Captain Harding's Zouave company, was left to
guard the bridge and vicinity. The
remainder of the battery proceeded to
BATTERY " B,"
The armament of the Battery consisted of four
and two twelve-pound howitzers. The side arms were Colt's revolvers, and sabers. The battery remained in Chicago, until June
1, when it
proceeded to Cairo, and was there joined by Captain Taylor, who had been
absent in St. Louis procuring arms for the artillery organizations of the
State, In July, Battery "B" crossed the Mississippi River to Bird's
Point, Mo. From Bird's Point the battery went
on to fight in the early battles of Fredricktown and Belmont.
BATTERY " B,"
The armament of the Battery consisted of four six-pound fieldpieces, and two twelve-pound howitzers. The side arms were Colt's revolvers, and sabers. The battery remained in Chicago, until June 1, when it proceeded to Cairo, and was there joined by Captain Taylor, who had been absent in St. Louis procuring arms for the artillery organizations of the State, In July, Battery "B" crossed the Mississippi River to Bird's Point, Mo. From Bird's Point the battery went on to fight in the early battles of Fredricktown and Belmont.