The 24th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment
also known as the "1st Hecker Regiment"
Summary of Service
Organized at Chicago, Ill., and mustered in July 8, 1861. Moved to Alton, Ill., July 10, 1861, thence to St. Charles and Mexico, Mo. Moved to Ironton, Mo., July 28. Reconnaissance from Ironton to Centreville August 2. Moved to Pilot Knob, Mo., August 8. Moved to Cape Girardeau, Mo., thence to Cairo, Ill., and ordered to Washington, D. C, September 15. Moved to Cincinnati, Ohio; thence ordered to Louisville, Ky., September 28. Attached to Thomas Command, Department of the Ohio, to November, 1861. 8th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, to December, 1861. 8th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to July, 1862. Unattached R. R. Guard to September, 1862. 28th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to October, 1862. 28th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Centre, 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to April, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to October, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Army Corps, to May, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, to August, 1864.
SERVICE.--Duty at Muldraugh's Hill, Ky., until November 30, 1861. At Elizabethtown, Ky., until December 22, and at Beacon Creek, Ky., until February 10, 1862. Advance on Bowling Green, Ky., February 10-15. Occupation of Bowling Green February 15-23. Advance on Nashville, Tenn., February 23-25. Occupation of Nashville February 25-March 18. Advance on Murfreesboro March 18-19. Reconnaissance to Shelbyville, Tullahoma and McMinnville March 25-28. Advance on Huntsville, Ala., April 4-11. Capture of Huntsville April 11. Advance on and capture of Decatur and Tuscumbia April 11-14. Occupation of Decatur April 13. Occupation of Tuscumbia until April 22. Moved to Jonesboro April 22-24, and to Decatur and Huntsville April 25-30. Moved to Athens May 1, and duty there until May 26. Negley's Expedition to Chattanooga, Tenn., May 26-June 11. Chattanooga June 7-8. March to Jasper June 11-16. Rankin's Ferry, near Jasper and Battle Creek, June 21. At Battle Creek until July 11, thence moved to Tullahoma and duty on Nashville & Chattanooga R. R. until September. March to Nashville, thence to Louisville, Ky., September 7-28. Pursuit of Bragg into Kentucky October 1-16. Battle of Perryville, Ky., October 8. Duty at Mitchellsville until December. March to Nashville December 7-9. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Action at Jefferson December 30. Battle of Stone's River December 31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Duty at Murfreesboro until June. Expedition to McMinnville April 20-30. Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign June 24-July 7. Hoover's Gap June 24-26. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until August 16. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Dug Gap, Ga., September 11. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21. Rossville Gap September 21. Siege of Chattanooga September 24-November 23. Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Orchard Knob November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Pursuit to Stevens' Gap November 26-27. At Chattanooga until February, 1864. Scout from Chattanooga to Harrison and Ooltewah January 21, 1864. Demonstration on Dalton, Ga., February 22-27. Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23-25. At Tyner's Station and Graysville, Ga., until May, 1864. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1-June 28. Demonstration against Rocky Faced Ridge May 8-11. Battle of Resaca May 14-15. Advance on Dallas May 22-25. Operations on line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-28. Pine Hill June 11-14. Lost Mountain June 15-17. Assault on Kenesaw Mountain June 27. Sent to rear June 28 for muster out. Mustered out August 6, 1864. Expiration of term.
Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 86 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 82 Enlisted men by disease. Total 173.
Above summary from civilwararchive.com
The following ten letters from soldiers in the 24th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment were translated by Joseph R. Reinhart. The letters originally appeared in issues of the Louisville Anzeiger, a German-American newspaper. The newspapers are available on microfilm at the Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky. and the University of Louisville.
A history of the 24th Illinois written by the regiment's surgeon William Wagner is available on-line at
April 27, 1862
(Translated by Joseph
R. Reinhart) x
Cortland, Lawrence Co., Alabama
14 April 1862
To the editor of the “Illinois Staats-ztg.,”
On 5 April our division broke camp at Murfreesboro and moved to the Arkansas border. From Shelbyville, which we hold in friendly memory as a good Union city because of the reception during our first visit, Turchin’s brigade was sent ahead as an advance guard toward Fayetteville, which we reached after a march over the mountains in a rainstorm and cold weather on the evening the 9th.
We were informed [by local Rebel citizens] of the defeat of the Federal troops by Corinth [not true] accompanied by their most distinctive gloating; the rebels sought to dispirit our soldiers. An order from Mitchell forced the citizens into their houses and strictly forbade them to leave. The next morning at 10 o’clock the brigade hit the road again. This day’s march will be unforgettable to the men. The march continued relentlessly through inhospitable mountains in spite of the rain and fog (which reminded us of Missouri’s wildest regions), through streams and rivers without bridges, and many wagons broke down and many stout soldiers sank down in fatigue. Night had already fallen when we descended from the mountains, and when we arrived the gloomy plain was illuminated by the dim moonlight.
The Alabama border was crossed. The road through the plain however was a muddy stream, into which the exhausted soldiers often sank over his knees, and could only labor away drudgingly. But it was unthinkable to lie down in this swamp; we had to keep going. It was about midnight, when we climbed up a hill and became aware of several fires in the indeterminate distance, which revealed our campsite. However, before we could reach it we still had to cross over a wide river without bridges; the water reached up over our hips. We were ordered to march again after barely two hours rest, and moved forward on the miserable road, which only became somewhat better toward morning. All this was necessary for the surprise attack on the city of Huntsville and the capture of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. We were within three miles of the city before our approach became known. A shrill whistle of a locomotive, soon climbing to a painful and howling fury in an angry tone, told us that a desperate attempt was made to take away the “rolling stock.” Now things went in a hurry! The cavalry with some guns sprang forward and soon cannon thumps and the rattling of small arms fire resounded out of the valley. Only a single locomotive succeeded in escaping, all the rest were intercepted.
When we marched in with a triumphant Yankeedoodle the good citizens of Huntsville were stunned as they watched us with their sleepy eyes, This blow was totally unexpected. The enemy's firm conviction that Mitchel's column had turned toward the Tennessee River at Columbia had not aroused suspicion of an attack. However, on the day before, 4000 men from Georgia passed through to strengthen the Rebel army by Corinth and 6–7000 men are supposed to have followed on this day. Seventeen (17) locomotives, among them several not at all used, and only two damaged, fell into our hands, along with a transport carrying over 250 Rebel soldiers. Most importantly now was the hindrance and further arrival here of enemy [troops] from the East. To achieve these goals quite a few locomotives and adequate manpower were sent toward Chattanooga to destroy the bridge over the Tennessee River beyond the connection of the Nashville-Chattanooga with the Memphis-Charleston Railroad in Stevenson. At the same time, the Hecker regiment received the assignment to conduct a reconnaissance toward Decatur by railroad. Late in the evening on the day of our entry into Huntsville, about 500 soldiers of our regiment departed with two cannon, which later were installed on two platform cars in front of the locomotive. In spite of having driven with the greatest caution, they had missed one place where the rails were ripped up. The engineer called to the people set up on the platform for observation of the rails, and suddenly the front-most-car, together with a cannon serving Company F, dropped off with some violent jerks into a soft earth cotton field, whereby it caused some bumps but no injuries.
The damage could only be repaired the next day. About 6 o’clock in the morning we approached the city located on the south shore of the 1800-foot wide Tennessee River, which is spanned by a railroad bridge on 12 massive stone supports. Before one reaches the river, an approximately 600-foot long wooden bridge passes over a lake lying parallel to the river. When our locomotive neared it we heard a shot and a few minutes later ascending smoke informed us that the bridge had been sent on fire. Our men sprang forward in the double quick with buckets and cooking pots and in a quarter of an hour it was extinguished. Nevertheless the bridge had been carefully covered with tar, cotton and turpentine.
Besides the quick action of our boys, preservation of the bridge was also thanks to the circumstance that it was ignited at the south side, while a north wind blew. Moreover the cotton was thoroughly soaked by a good downpour and did not catch fire. After that a workmanlike fort built out of cotton stared at us from the bridge. It had 2 openings for guns but was unoccupied. Over 200 bales had been used to build it.
In the double quick, we now approached the long river bridge where similar preparations for burning it down were encountered, except for the rotary piece of the railroad bridge raised for the passage of boats. After delivering the threat that we would bombard the city in 5 minutes if the citizens did not immediately make the connection, it happened with fabulous speed.
Colonel Mihalotzy let our men roam the streets of the city in small detachments, and after we caught sight of two tented camps on a hill skirmishers sent ahead found them empty. They were cavalry camps. The Rebels had made a hasty departure. Our booty was large: tents, weapons, saddles, provisions, clothes, etc. A flag with the inscription: Zollicoffers Avengers fell into our hands. During the course of the day the 4th Cavalry Regiment arrived by us and immediately took off after the fleeing enemy; later still some companies of the 19th Ill. Reg. arrived by railroad.
On the next morning (13 April) Col, Mihalotzy decided to send the reconnaissance westward along the railroad. The expeditionary body consisted of the Companies C, F, and G of ours plus 3 companies of the 19th Ill. Reg., the two cannon, and 12 men of the Ohio regiment. About 12 miles west of Decatur we encountered a burning bridge, which in any case was quickly put out. Some Negroes informed us that a planter and some Rebel soldiers in the neighborhood set the fire and rode away together.
They fled to the plantation, where a new elegantly-furnished dwelling, provided with a library, was surrounded by a grove of peach trees in a painstakingly designed garden, with boxwood hedges and extensive flowerbeds.
Handcuffs, chains and canes discovered in a nearby house suggested the business of the property owners. All the buildings were abandoned. Red flames soon appeared on the roofs of all buildings and after an hour only debris from a smoking house marked the place where the planter’s villa stood. Meanwhile, under the leadership of several of our people, the Negroes had made the bridge usable for the locomotive. Two or three miles farther stood another bridge on fire, without doubt set on fire by the party named above. While the repair work continued our skirmishers and cavalry wandered in the woods and encountered an enemy cavalry troop, which after many shots turned and fled, closely pursued by our Ohio troopers. Five enemy soldiers, among them a 1[st] Lieutenant, were captured and various weapons and 2 additional flags taken. One of the latter was made from the finest silk and bore the inscription: Pope Walkers Guards; it is now in the possession of Comp. G and will soon be resplendent in the Turner Hall in Chicago. The other very brilliant one carried the motto: “Resistance to the death” and is in the possession of Col. Mihalotzy, who during the whole expedition has maintained [his reputation] as a proficient soldier through his calm leadership and his sharp eye.
Our advance from Courtland (22 miles west of Decatur) was blocked by the destruction of both bridges spanning Big Name Creek. Today a detachment of the Michigan Mechanic Engineers arrived, and under their leadership, we hope through the acceleration of the work, our movement toward the flanks of the enemy’s position around Corinth, could still have a decisive influence.
June 22, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
From the Hecker Regiment. The Ill. Staztg. received a message from the “Camp
at Fayetteville, Tenn., under the date of June 15.
"On 2 June, our regiment, under
the command of Colonel Turchin, marched to
Chattanooga; four companies of each regiment were left behind and Lieutenant Colonel Hull
of the 37th Indiana Regiment was made camp commander.” The correspondent further
reported that Hull meant to use the absence of Colonel Turchin for the extradition of refugee
Negroes, and had given the order on the 10th to send all “slaves” staying with the regiments to
headquarters on the morning of the 11th where their owners, who had offered substantial sums
for the return of their negroes, would survey them before their extradition.
But Captain Hartmann, along with
Dr. Wagner, presented the commanding officer a
statement, signed by all officers of the Hecker Regiment, stating there were not any slaves in
their companies, and Dr. Wagner explained further that the Hecker Regiment would stick to
the article of war prohibiting extradition of slaves by army officers.
Soon thereafter Hull appeared
personally to convince himself that no slaves were present at
the Hecker Regiment’s camp. The men had tied a rope to a tree with a written threat against slave hunters and welcomed Lieutenant Colonel Hull with “three groans,” who thereupon quickly left again.
The correspondent indicated that
Hull had been acting on orders of General Mitchell [Mitchel], who
allegedly had been bribed by the slave traders. In a message received later this correspondent
mentioned that just recently a small negro boy being whipped by his owner, on command of Mitchell [Mitchel] and Hull, had been carried off from the camp of the 19th Illinois Regiment, which
was behaving in an "extremely rude" manner and had even given this "barbarian" a military
escort. But he, the correspondent, had followed this company and, waiting for a good chance,
freed the Negro boy to the joy of the Hecker Regiment.
General Mitchell, who has been
denounced here as slave hunter, had, in the past, been a
“Know Nothing” and today is —a Republican.
July 8, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
The Illinois Staats-Zeitung [Illinois State Newspaper] gives a report on the contents of a long letter from the Hecker Regiment received on the 4th of July:
Among other things that we learned
from the letter is that all officers, lead by Major Standau and
regiment’s doctor, Dr. Wagner, and except for Colonel Mihalotzy and Lieutenant Poull, have filed
their resignation because General Mitchell [Mitchel] continued to enforce his slave extradition order. The entire regiment sides with its brave officers; all past disagreements are forgotten. Now the War Department will have to resolve the disagreements between the "man-hunter
dog" and the officers of the regiment, because the latter have turned to Mr. Stanton for help.
The six companies of the Hecker
Regiment, which had been detached to Chattanooga under
Colonel Mihalotzy, engaged in fierce combat with the enemy on June 21 near Jasper,
Tennessee, and faired extremely well. The enemy was repelled and lost 42 men dead and
wounded. Of particular note is the highly praised valor of Captain Kovats and Lieutenant Gerhardt, both
of whom were severely wounded.
A note from Dr. Wagner was attached to the letter from the soldier:
Wounded and missing from the regiment after the battle at Rankin's Ferry, near Jasper, East Tennessee, on June 21, 1862:
Aug. Kovats from Chicago, Captain, Company F, bullet wound in the loin.
Hugo Gerhardt from Bloomington,
Illinois, 2nd Lieutenant, Company F, bullet wound in the
Heinrich Schaefer, Private, Company F, bullet wound in the cheek and the leg.
These three wounded have already
been sent to the military hospital in Huntsville —their
wounds are severe but not lethal.
Joseph Schmidt, Private, Company H,
probably wounded and captured.
Charles Bergmann, Private, Company J, probably captured.
Herm. Schulz, apothecary from the
regiment's medical department was captured while
helping the wounded.
July 18, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
Who Earned His Crown
A correspondence from Dr. Wagner of the Hecker Regiment to the Ill. Staatsz.[eitung] states unambiguously that the renown for the shining operations of Mitchel’s division is almost solely is due to Turchin from the 19th Ill. Regt., who functioned as brigadier general (and of course the good troops), and that Mitchel had not the least part in this operation, rather he sought to impede it, probably however after their success knew how to fake the fame for it through an official system of newspaper correspondences from him glorifying himself. That is why the president appointed him a major general, while Turchin must be satisfied with the rank of colonel. Mitchel can henceforth only assert his claim as a heartless vendor of human beings and bordello-addicted cotton speculator like a large virtuoso in the arts who decorates himself with borrowed plumes.
We disclose the following from the correspondence dated Battle Creek, Tenn., 3 July, the most important:
“Since the fight by Jasper and the cannonade over the Tennessee River on 21 June we live here in the greatest tranquility. We have fortified our position at the confluence with the Tennessee River. The enemy has also constructed fortifications on the opposite side—although we are only separated from one another by the river, there has not been a renewal of the fighting. Our force has been strengthened by up to 6 regiments. The camp bears the name “Camp Mihalotzy,” in honor of our regiment’s commander; Col. Starkweather functions as the post commander. Meanwhile Buell entered Huntsville with four divisions, while Nelson advanced eastward to the south shore of the river by Decatur. What destination our division has is totally unknown for the present.”
Afterward, Dr. W[agner] mentioned that the imbroglio of the officers of the Hecker Regiment with Gen. Mitchell [Mitchel] because of the required “driving out of the slaves” is still in abeyance, and that the officers of other regiments have refused the execution of Gen. Mitchell’s illegal order. He came to speak about the actual subject, how Mitchell succeeded in broadcasting himself through proclamations and professional brothel correspondents, as a new genius of strategy of the first rank and “savior” for the East, while he owes his military name only to Colonel Turchin.
Dr. W. writes:
“After Mitchell [Mitchel] had arrived in Fayetteville on his march southward from Shelbyville, we received the first accounts of the defeat at Pittsburg Landing. Mitchell was in doubt whether he still should advance. Finally, however, he decided [illegible line of text] to dare to burn the Decatur Bridge. Turchin protested and requested to be allowed to surprise Huntsville with his brigade. After long, strong resistance, Mitchell finally relented; however, not without stating the words of Pilatus: “ I wash my hands of guilt; Colonel Turchin, on you falls the whole responsibility of this far-out undertaking.” But see! The risky undertaking became crowned with glowing success—and all America was astonished over Mitchell’s “shrewd boldness,” “of the man of brains,” “of the thinking general.”
Still on the day of entry into Huntsville, Turchin was ordered to, if possible, advance with our regiment on the railroad to Decatur to prevent the burning of the large bridge over the Tennessee River. However, when we arrived at the bridge the enemy had already set it on fire—we put it out and stormed through smoke and ruins over to Decatur and after several hours of rest under Turchin’s and Mihalotzy’s command, advanced farther westward on the Tuscumbia Railroad.
Mitchell only hesitatingly and reluctantly gave conditional agreement to this new "madness" and as we pushed by Courtland with unexpected difficulties, it rested actually on Turchin who brought him into this "confound scrape"! When we had moved victoriously into Tuscumbia however in spite of all that, and had come into communication with Halleck, Mitchell then announced in a pompous proclamation to the marveling world, how his operational front had expanded in three days to more than 120 miles and that “our morning gun at Tuscumbia may now be heard by our comrades on the battlefield recently made glorious by the victory in front of Corinth.” Mitchell was named as major general for his amazing acts and he in turn recommended three brigade commanders for advancement to brigadier general: Turchin is not among the three; however, he has climbed higher in the respect of his fellow officers
All the more, the new major general sought through paltry chicanery to mistreat and to act like a schoolmaster, so that Col. Turchin once shouted with more arid words: “Major General, do not forget that you have the esteemed brigade under my command to thank for the second star on your shoulder straps!” Fortunately the friends of Turchin are so numerous that he will hopefully succeed with his well-deserved advancement in spite of all Mitchell’s intrigue.
Another reason associated with the animosity against the “Lord of North Alabama” and which no doubt along with his skill in the delivery of loyal blacks to their Rebel lords, is the manner how he conducted the buying up and transportation of cotton.
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
From the old Hecker Regiment
The Illinois Staats-[Z]eitung
included two correspondences from the old Hecker Regiment, which contains
interesting news despite their rather old dates. The first, dated Nashville, end of August, describes Buell's army's mood as ill-tempered
due to the "concentrating on backwards" strategy of the "Great
Disciplinarian,” who instead of marching his vast numbers of troops forward towards East Tennessee, and
relieving our army in Virginia, is supposedly having Bragg amass unmolested a strong army south of the Tennessee all the while until he [Bragg] would finally be able to take the offensive. This bad mood was made even worse by some events, namely by [1.] Col. Boone's behavior, who, despite having a post in Gallatin which was protected by a single palisade, easily defended by 100 Infantrymen against five times as much cavalry, allowed himself and several hundred men captured by Morgan; 2. through Col. Manson's cowardly surrender of Clarksville [Richmond, Ky.] ; 3. through the behavior of the Kentucky General Johnson
during his capture in a battle near Gallatin. In reference to this last event the correspondent writes:
“The General (a former captain in
the regular army) had left on the morning of the 24
August with a cavalry force of 800 men (consisting of companies from the 2d Indiana, 7th
Pennsylvania, and 4th and 5th Kentucky Cavalry regiments) to reconnoiter around Gallatin. At
eight in the morning he reached the enemy's forward post, about 1 ½ miles this side of
Gallatin, which immediately fell back to their main body. Our cavalry dismounted their
horses, because fences made a cavalry charge impossible, and attacked with varying luck, but
was finally beaten back by the enemy's superiority. Gen. Johnson supposedly had given only
one order during this whole engagement, so that the individual companies were forced to act
mostly upon their own discretion. This made cooperation to work on a battle plan impossible
and resulted in an unorganized retreat of our troops. But no man thought about surrender, only
Gen. Johnson, who announced, despite the protests of his officers, that all was lost and he
offered the surrender of his command under the white flag. In honor of his men it should be
said, not a single man followed him, not even his own staff, and while the General, the white
cloth waving, delivered himself to the Rebels, our men fought their way out, albeit not
without considerable losses, crossed the Cumberland near Lebanon and returned to their camp near Nashville. Among those who stayed is also Adjutant Wynkoep (name?), the son of the
brave commander of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Gen. Johnson was, no doubt, welcomed by
Morgan “in the most knightly fashion,” but he is followed by the curses of those who were once
As counterpart of those actions by
two colonels and one general, the correspondent
gives following the report of the heroic performance of one's duty by a simple captain:
[“]On the 20th, approximately 1000
guerrilla fighters attacked Edgefield Junction (on the Louisville
Nashville Railroad), which was defended by only a small detachment of the 50th Indiana regiment
under command of Captain Atkinson. The men immediately retreated behind their blockades
and repelled three attacks by the rebel riders with heavy losses for the later and finally forced
them to retreat. An adjutant of Morgan, as well Lieutenant
Jim Smith, who is well known in Louisville, were killed in the attack. Atkinson, in his fortified place, did not lose a single man
and victoriously defended his position. Honor to these brave!"
From the remaining parts of the correspondence we learn following:
Since the supplies for our army
were cut in the north, a situation of grave privation has
arisen in Nashville and the cheers of the rebel citizens in town suddenly grew quiet and were
replaced by long faces, when through an order of headquarters all citizens’ provision shops
and magazines were closed and the supplies (with the order, to be payable after the war in
case the owner can prove his loyalty) assigned to the quartermasters and the commissioners.
Severely restricted small sales can be made to the citizens. Because of this
measure, prices have suddenly risen a la Richmond. One pound of coffee 75 Cts., sugar 45
Cts., flour $12 per barrel. Heavy batteries were
stationed on a prominent hill in the south of the town and batteries of the heaviest caliber observe the rebel nest below from Capitol Hill.
From the second correspondence, dated Nashville, September 6, we learn the following:
We still do not have mail connection to Louisville (this letter for example is delivered by the sutler of the 32nd Ind. Reg.).
Our regiment has now been assigned
to the 28h Brigade, which consists of the 79th
Pennsylvania (Col. Himbright), 1st Wisconsin (Col. Starkweather), 17th Kentucky Infantry
Regiment (Col. McHenry) and Bush's battery. Both regiments named first are excellently
drilled and complete; I couldn't learn any details about the Kentucky regiment. Col.
Starkweather is commander of the brigade. The three infantry regiments and the battery
left for Bowling Green several days ago, our regiment will gather here tomorrow and make a
preliminary camp on the right bank of the Cumberland, but for sure we will soon follow the
departed regiments of the brigade soon.
As unwilling as we are to lose
Turchin as our brigade commander, we are as
relieved, on the other hand, of ending our involuntary companionship with the “light
fingered gentry,” the 19th Illinois regiment, which has been so impertinently elevated by the
Chicago Tribune but caused us so much discontentment and dishonor.
It seems Buell would like to establish his headquarters here for some time; new brigades and divisions arrive daily from the southwest. Gen. Rosenkranz [Rosecrans] supposedly is on his way here from Corinth.
September 25, 1861
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
Hecker in Louisville
Yesterday afternoon, between one
and two, The famous and eagerly awaited Hecker
regiment arrived here yesterday afternoon, between one and two. If the name alone was able to evoke a whole world of patriotism, joy and
pride among the soul of every true and fatherland-loving German, how much greater must
have been the enthusiasm of our Germans living here, when the hero and fellow countryman
of the memorable year of 1848 appeared in our midst with a German regiment to protect the
Hecker, heading his brave German
host, on his hat the colors of the old and familiar
fatherland, the eternal black-red-gold banner of freedom, on his breast the glorious colors of
this country, the star spangled red-white-blue, had to appear as the hero of ardor and loyalty to
the fatherland to every true man of freedom.
Hecker's regiment arrived at 1:45
this afternoon on the steamers Dunleith
Champun [Champion] No. 3 from Cincinnati. As soon as the news of the illustrious
patriot's arrival had spread, thousands of Germans and Americans hurried to the steamboat
As soon as the steamboat had
landed on the wharf, Hecker, accompanied by the
steamboat company's President, Captain Shelby, rode to the Louisville Hotel in a chaise. The
thousands of his admirers thought they had missed the opportunity to see the German
patriot, when he suddenly came back, mounted his warhorse and deployed his brave German
comrades-in-arms into battle order. The cheers, the ecstasy, the hoorays, which sounded
towards heaven as Hecker, mounted atop his horse, rode in front of his regiment, can't be
described—but only remembered.
The regiment left after a few
evolutions and marched to the sound of martial music up
the levee and along Fourth Street. On the comer of Fourth and Main Street, the regiment was greeted enthusiastically and
accompanied by such a mass of people that it was almost impossible for the men to move
Arriving at the Louisville Hotel,
Hecker ordered his disciplined regiment to halt, forming a
front, dismounted his horse and paid the hero of Fort Sumpter [Sumter], General Anderson, a
short visit. After that he had his men perform some military drills and finally marched towards the
Courthouse, where the brave warriors would be warmly greeted.
Hecker has grown old, his once red
beard is now gray, but his eyes are still alight with fire, his voice still strong, he commands with a thunderous voice and knows
how to electrify his
men. Hecker gave a short speech to the assembled crowd after his brave men had enjoyed food and drink at the Court plaza,
Hecker's regiment has been in
service for five months; it first saw the theater of war in
Missouri, where it earned its laurels, then it was called to Cairo and from there to Kentucky in
the Southwest, where it advanced up to Columbus, having to cut its path through arduous
woods. From South Kentucky it was sent to Virginia and almost there, received the order to
march back to Kentucky. No surprise that the uniforms of these brave men do not shine as
much anymore as those of the New England Paper Soldiers, whose patriotism is centered only
around the conservation of their uniforms.
The memory of the Hecker
regiment's reception will continue here for long and in
later days the German population will remember this grand day with ardor.
September 7, 1863
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
Dr. Wagner wrote to the Illinois Staats-Zeitung [Illinois State Newspaper].
Like Colonel Mihalosz [Mihalotzy],
Major Guenther had been wounded on the morning of the first day of
battle. The shot punctured his right lung. He then was taken to the 3d Division’s hospital where he was captured. Many of our doctors remained there to help treat wounds. His condition is said to be comparatively not critical. The command of the regiment was passed to the senior captain, A. Mauff, because Lieutenant
Colonel von Hom has not yet returned to the regiment from his 20-day leave granted in
February. All other officers had been wounded either on the evening of the first or second day
Captain Steffens has a severe grazing shot on his side, but is back with the regiment.
Captains Hinz and Blanke had been
wounded by shell or tree splinters but stayed with the
regiment; just as was Lieutenant Lippert, who lost portions of his ear and cheek to a bullet.
While lying on the ground, Lieutenant Kaufmann, who had been commanding company D in the absence of Lieutenant Poul, caught a shot across his back that caused a deep wound several inches long.
Lieutenant Lohmann's leg was
wounded severely by a tree branch, which had been shot off.
But the leg is not broken.
Lieutenant Aug. Bitter will be
leaving for Chicago within the next few days.
Everyone agrees that all officers, as well as the men, fought with extreme bravado.
Captain Heinrichs fell on the second
day, while acting as major. A bullet hit him in the head
killing him almost instantly.
October 31, 1862
26th Oct. 1862
Yesterday I arrived here and on
the same evening Lan and Geo. von Hollen arrived from
Louisville to transport Captain Hartmann there, whose condition has improved greatly, and Lieutenant Bernhard von Hollen, and maybe to Chicago. Lan and Geo. von Hollen have put themselves under great hardships on their noble mission and earn much praise for their valor and sacrifice.
Unfortunately I have to add to the
death list of our regiment, because following have
succumbed to their serious wounds:
Passed away at the General Hospital at Perryville:
1. Sebastian Müller, Private, Company H, on October 14th.
2. John Au, Corporal, Company H, October 14th.
3. Ad.[olph] Ribelung, Sergeant, Company D, October 17th.
4. Peter Rehlinger, Corporal, Company I, October 20th.
5. Jos Brosch, Color Sergeant, Company H, October 23rd.
6. John Spotleder [Sparleder], Corporal, Company C, October 25th.
Our brave Color Sergeant Brosch
was buried half an hour before my arrival in Perryville.
Sporleder [Sparleder] died last night of Typhus fever; he had been shot in the battle and then was
captured. He had been lying in a Sesesh hospital, where I found him, for three days
without food, and almost in the open.
I left our regiment in New Market,
eight miles south of Lebanon where we were supposed to
be supplied with new tents. I used this short period and rode the 28 miles to here to look after the
wounded, but have to catch up with the regiment again today.
Most of our wounded have been
transported to Louisville and I made arrangements, that all
(except for three who are not movable) are directed there. Except for the severely wounded
Phildins [Philius], of company F, all are in a comparatively good state, but a transfer to Louisville
soon is very desirable, because there are still 1,500 wounded men lying here and the number of
surgeons is hardly enough. The supply was at first complicated because of following
1. The number of surgeons in the regiments is insufficient.
2. All surgeons of the advancing
regiments had to return to the latter
because after the battle at Perryville a major battle was
3. Buell had given the order at
Bowling Green that the hospital facilities of the regiments
had to be left behind and so the quartermasters declined the hospital wagons access to
the train. Therefore a lack of dressing material [existed] after the battle.
4. The hospital and medicinal supplies sent from Louisville had been burned by Morgan.
5. In the area surrounding the
battlefield there are just a few houses within miles, so that the
wounded had to lie several days in the open.
6. This area has a horrible lack of water.
Governor Salomon of Wisconsin has,
among other things, sent two very efficient doctors
here from Milwaukee with enormous supplies highly recommended for the wounded.
Tonight, snow has fallen.
November 20, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
From the Hecker Regiment
The “Illinois Staatszeitung” brings the following correspondence, somewhat late:
Bowling Green, [Ky.]
4th Nov. 
On the day before we decamped at New Market [Ky.] the celebration of the presentation of our New Flag took place during a festive parade of the entire brigade (five infantry regiments and two batteries). The hero of Perryville, Major General Rousseau, presented it personally to the regiment with a stirring speech, in which he commemorated the bravery of the fallen under the old flag who had bought immortal fame to the regiment with their blood. The regiment’s flag, painted by Mr. Schultz in Louisville, is particularly brilliant and brings honor to the artist. On this occasion it turned out to our total indignation that the remnants of the old flag, which should be fastened to the new, had been taken to Chicago in an unauthorized manner by the meddler Capt. Mauff. This “German Warrior” may well consider that under the auspice of his patron (Lt.) Gouv. Hoffmann, he has already botched all sorts of jobs for our regiment to be able to tailor a major’s coat for himself as recognition of his negative merit in the battle of Perryville!
Incidentally, the esteem this candidate for major enjoys with his fellow officers is shown on the basis of voting, which Col. Mihalotzy conducted among the officer corps before he sent his nominations for the occupation of the vacant officer positions to the Governor.
Votes received for major: Captain Günther 13, Capt. Kovats 4, Capt. Mauff,—one vote! This happened before the Battle of Perryville. Since that day the votes against him prevail in the regiment; those who are interested can learn sufficiently from the wounded officers and soldiers of the regiment returned to Chicago.
The following letters were translated by Joseph R. Reinhart. They appeared in the Illinois Staats-Zeitung (Chicago) in German. The Illinois Staats-Zeitung has been preserved on Microfilm at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
October 20, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
16 Oct. 1862, evening
To the editor of the Ill. Staatszeitung.
Just arrived here. I hurry to forward the letter of Dr. Wagner and to enclose a supplement to the list of dead and wounded. I left the regiment at 3:30 in the afternoon on the 14th at the fairgrounds at Danville, Ky., and arrived around 6 o’clock in Perryville, where, 6 of our men lie severely wounded; considering the circumstances they are rather cheerful and hope they can recover without amputations. In another house, I met Riehlinger from Co. I who had 5 severe wounds and whose recovery is in doubt. He is very weak. In three other houses I found still 15–20 lightly wounded who will come here today. Finally, around 9 P. M., I found Capt. Hartmann, Capt. Steffens and Lt. Hand with still some under the care of Nik. Hand and a German doctor from the 35th Indiana Reg. They all are cheerful and hope to come to Louisville in a few days. Lt. Hand is not dead, as was reported to Chicago. The bullet has been removed from him and has not created an infection of the shoulder bone. Early yesterday I went on the battlefield and found only 4 wounded from our regiment in the houses there. Ord. Sergeant v. Hollen and Charles Mulligan were brought to Perryville only days before and still not amputated, as it is said. In the large field hospital I learned that Philibus from Co. F died and was buried yesterday. This is the only change on the list. I was unable in the circumstances to discover all our people because all the houses in Perryville and all houses on the battlefield to the road to Nashville for 6 miles from Perryville are full of wounded from all regiments mixed together. I found the battlefield evacuated, only the groups of burial mounds, the hundreds of dead horses lying around and shot up wagons, and the shot up trees let the battlefield be recognized easy enough. The length of the whole battlefield stretched for ten miles.
It is said that a German doctor had arrived in Perryville, who put an end to the hand and foot amputations made by American doctors with a passion. The toil is said to have been terrible; however our doctors wouldn't allow amputations (nothing to you or me), and with better nursing most will be able to save their limbs.
It is already midnight, so I must close, because I had ridden the whole night through making me too sleepy to write anymore.
Postmaster of the 24th Reg. Ill.
October 20, 1862
(Translated by Joseph R. Reinhart)
14th Oct. 1862
On the 10th I sent a report to you about the battle at Perryville and a list of our wounded. Hopefully both reached you. Since then the following changes have occurred. Of the missing Karl Enders, Private, Co. G, was later found dead on the battlefield. Two other of the missing turned up again, and we are uncertain of the fate of only one (Maurice Cummings, Co. B). Our casualties are then: dead 25, wounded 77, missing 1. The transportable wounded were for the most part taken to Perryville, from where they will soon possibly be sent back to Louisville. Among the military surgeons in Perryville a German is supposed to be found who especially attends to our men. I will not be allowed to go to the hospitals, because I am at the moment the only doctor in the regiment (Asst. Surgeon Dr. Thomas is detached to a hospital at Bowling Green). Daily we expect a renewal of the battle.
The conditions of Capt. Hartmann and Lt. Hand is such that in a short time they can travel to Chicago and await their recovery there.
The day before yesterday McCook’s army corps (that is now completed through the arrival of his division, now under command of Gen. Sill) marched through Harrodsburg, which is full of wounded and dying Sesech. Our camp was a mile this side of the city by one of the bridges over a fork of the Salt River that was burned down days before by the Rebels.
Yesterday we unexpectedly changed our line of march directly to the south, and advanced on the Danville Road to where we continue our march today. We presume our purpose, in connection with one other army corps, is to cut off the retreat of the Rebels to the Cumberland Gap. The regiment’s postmaster, who is waiting on my letter to take it to Louisville himself, has promised me that if something in particular has occurred in the hospitals in Perryville to report it to you promptly.
December 9, 1863
The Old Hecker Regiment [24th Illinois]
Nov. 26, 1863
Through a fortunate circumstance, which took me out of the field and into our camp, I am now in a position to report to you the results of our attack against the Rebel position.
The attack that was supposed to take place on the 21st was, through unforeseen circumstances, deferred until the 23rd. On the evening before this day the army received the order to move under arms at 3 o’clock the next morning in order to capture designated positions. This assignment had to be canceled, however, and our deployment shifted until 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly about this time everyone became active; the infantry moved into the rifle pits, the gunners were posted behind their cannon, couriers dashed right and left, signal flags fluttered on all hills and soon a number of guns thundered from the forts here sending their greetings to the Rebels on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Before long they returned the fire. It boomed like two blustery thunderstorms from which energy arose from the valley between the Rebel-held heights. Soon small arms fire became audible on our left wing and there was stubborn fighting until evening.
According to reports that came to us late in the evening, troops from the corps of Generals Granger and Howard, which yesterday left before Hooker in order to reinforce our left wing, advanced there, and had charged quite a few of the rifle pits dug at the foot of Missionary Ridge and two Rebel regiments located in them were taken prisoner.
On the right wing, which our division formed, there was no attack; activity was limited to bombarding Lookout Mountain with the guns of our forts. During the night several of the entrenchments were rearranged and our brigade, which until then had been posted in the rifle pits in front of its camps, moved to the right in Fort Negley, in order to hold it during the battle.
The night was a very raw one and the sky, which was already covered by dark gray clouds the entire previous day, was even darker. Toward morning a heavy rebel [rain] fell on us, which blocked our view of everything around us. At daybreak, several shells were fired from time to time from Fort Wood and the works close by into the enemy camps on Missionary Ridge and, after the Rebels had fired some more, two twenty-pounders from Fort Negley alternately fired on Lookout Mountain. A large number of light guns were advanced in front of Missionary Ridge and an enormous number of troops concentrated there. We believed that the battle on the left flank would breakout with renewed furor. However, it was not so.
Gradually the fire from the forts ceased and it was quiet. Near 9 o’clock however we heard distant gunfire to the far right from our side behind Lookout Mountain.
The first impression we had of it was that the enemy had pounced upon the supposed remnant of Hooker's army abandoned by Howard and supposedly weakened, in order to destroy it. But the firing came closer and closer and higher up the mountain. In the beginning much skirmish fire changed in a short time into an ever-stronger hot fire. It soon became clear that our troops had attacked the Rebel positions on the mountain. We looked through our glasses for some time at the middle of the part of the mountain that gradually slopes to the river and is free from trees and bushes. We saw several figures that once again fired over on the other side of the mountain, and then hurriedly moved to this side. They were apparently Rebels, who fled in front of the Union troops that soon emerged from the woods with colors flying. It was apparently these Rebels, who fled in front of the advancing Union troops who were advancing thereon out of the woods with flying flags. Very difficult was the task of the latter, who had to dislodge the Rebels from behind the thousand boulders with which the mountain is covered. Then they pushed ever farther and chased the enemy from point to point. Towards evening we saw how they were busy, hastily moving wagons and ambulances down from the mountain on the route to the South; therefore, several batteries were quickly deployed at the reserve station of our pickets and began firing.
The battle up on the mountain lasted until late in the night. Between eight and nine o’clock, a full moon emerged out of the dark clouds, which during the day had shut off almost all light from us, and smiled at us from the increasingly lightening blue sky, then we saw the flicker of the flames from the firing of rifles of the heroic group of Union combatants who had penetrated almost to the top of the mountain. After the sun had risen the next morning in its fullest beauty over Missionary Ridge and cast its light directly on the mountain, we could see clearly how some men laboriously worked their way up the mountain’s crowning high tower and steep dome and some time after that (from that same dome) waved the star spangled banner of the United States proudly and more gloriously than ever, for if anywhere, then here, the valor of a fatherland loving band, rarely equaled in history, has raised it high.
By noon one of our heavily loaded steamboats passed by heavily loaded with provisions and was greeted with cheers by the nearby troops.
Early in the morning it became lively on our left wing, which had been quiet yesterday, During the night Sherman had crossed his army six or seven miles above Chattanooga, and planned that all of our troops located near the ford would capture the enemy pickets without the enemy being alerted.
Early in the morning the thunder of cannon was heard on the Rebels’ extreme right flank, which soon became more severe, soon weakened and moved always farther behind the ridge in the rear of the Rebels. Sherman apparently had them completely surrounded. They were so concerned about this that they directed almost all their guns on him and away from us.
The forts had unleashed a severe fire on the ridge earlier and maintained it almost the whole day. The battle raged furiously behind the mountain for several hours during the afternoon; because of the thundering cannon fire the heavy musketry could hardly be heard. Sherman’s corps is supposed to have made two bayonet charges against the enemy’s positions but each time was repulsed with heavy losses. Shortly before sundown Thomas’s corps (14) ventured an attack from this side. It was a magnificent sight, which evoked in all of us the greatest suspense, to see how the troops stormed up the ridge in a long line. Climbing and crawling they pressed forward, while the enemy really thinned their ranks with canister. Nevertheless, they ascended up there and, the enemy’s cannon as if a god had demanded the thunder to stop, the enemy’s cannon were silenced suddenly by the bayonets of our soldiers. The battle ended and the day was ours. Those Rebels who could run away did so. Our booty is very rich. The number of captured canon was probably sixty and the number of prisoners exceeded six thousand. Small arms lay all over the battlefield by the thousands, and tremendous quantities of provisions, camp equipment and so forth, have fallen into our hands. In short, our victory is complete, sublime. It is a victory of Grant’s like at [Fort] Donelson and Vicksburg and perhaps of even greater importance than those two.
In consideration of the large losses our brigade suffered at Chickamauga, General Thomas left us behind to occupy Fort Negley, thus we took no active part in any combat during the battle, and if some have contracted a cold as a result of laying around outside in cold and wetness, also everyone has remained completely healthy and alive.