Illinois in the Civil War

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During the Civil War, Illinois raised more than 250,000 men for the Union. Their records can be found in state records shown on this page, unit records which may be found on the military unit pages (see below for links), or federal records. For ideas on how to begin searching for your Civil War ancestor, see Beginning United States Civil War Research.

Colour-bearers of the 71st Regiment, Illinois Infantry

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Over 250,000 Illinois men served in the Union Army,the fourth most of any northern state. Illinois supplied 150 infantry regiments, 17 cavalry regiments, and 2 light artillery regiments. Most served in the Western Theater.  Illinois also was a major source of military supplies, food, and clothing. National cemeteries were established in Illinois at sites directly connected to Federal prisons, military hospitals or training camps - Alton, Camp Butler, Mound City and Rock Island.[1] The U.S. War Department credited Illinois with 255,057 white soldiers, 2,224 sailors and marines, and 1,811 colored soldiers.[2]

Illinois Military Units
Famous Union Battle Flags 3.jpg
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Most units were numbered, however, some were named. See the table below for lists of the regiments, battalions, batteries, and unassigned companies.

The information in the lists of Illinois Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.

Illinois Units by Number or by Name
Union Units

Illinois Units by Type of Unit
Union Units

Identifying Military Units[edit | edit source]

  • Delap, Fred and Illinois State Archives. Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database (accessed 18 March 2020). Searches can be done to find 1) a specific soldier, 2) all the soldiers in a unit, 3) all the soldiers in a company, or 4) all the soldiers from a county, township, or city.

Relatives and neighbors may have been in different military units even though they enlisted from the same county. A source that tells which companies were raised from each county is:

  • Illinois Military Units in the Civil War. Springfield, Illinois: Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, 1962. (Family History Library book 977.3 M2im; fiche 6334558). The first section is arranged by county. The rest of the book is arranged by the name of the military unit, naming the counties where each company was raised.
  • Smith, Elijah Parsons. The diary of Elijah P. Smith. (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974), FHL film 965938 Item 3.

Navy[edit | edit source]

Illinois men who served in the Navy during the war are identified in:

  • Roster of Men From Illinois Who Served in the United States Navy During the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1866. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974, 1975. (Family History Library film 1001182, item 2 [index], and 978491, item1 [roster of men]).
  • Also available online at the IL State Archives Database of Illinois Civil War Veterans serving in the Navy

Militia[edit | edit source]

Muster Rolls, Militia Lists and Military Censuses The Illinois State Archives has a considerable collection of original muster rolls, militia lists, and military censuses for the Civil War (Record Series 301.29). Militia lists were of two types: volunteer militias and lists of males subject to military service. Volunteer lists include the each member’s name, residence, age, birthplace, occupation, and date and term of enlistment in the militia. During the war, entire units of volunteer militias were called into service, although some members enlisted individually.

Militia lists of men between the ages of 18 and 45 who were subject to military service were created by Illinois county assessors from 1861 through 1863 as a form of draft registration. These lists usually contain only the names and not their ages. Many of those listed may not have actually served.

Militia lists of both types are in:

  • Illinois. Assessors. Militia Rolls, 1862–1863. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1977. (Family History Library films 1012406–24). These are arranged by county and town and list the names of men in rough alphabetical order.
  • The military census of 1862 taken by the federal government is also at the Illinois State Archives and lists men subject to military service. It gives each person’s name, age, birthplace, and occupation, and remarks about military assignments or exemptions. This collection often includes lists of volunteers and enlistment certificates.
  • The 1865 Illinois State Census, taken on 3 July 1865, names only the Head of Household but has a count of the number of family members serving in the Militia. The following counties are missing: Gallatin, Mason, Monroe and part of Tazewell.  In addition to the above link to, the records are available at the IL State Archives and on 18 reels of FHL mcrofilm.

Service Records[edit | edit source]

An index to the compiled service records is:

  • United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Illinois. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0539. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1964. (Family History Library films 881621–721) The original federal service records and pensions are available only at the National Archives.

The compiled service records of Illinois soldiers have not been microfilmed and are only available from the National Archives. For more information see Union Service Records.

Pension Records[edit | edit source]

Civil War Pension Index Cards

  • An index of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. The majority of the records are of Civil War veterans, but the collection also includes records for veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Indian Wars, and World War I. For more information see Union Pension Records.
  • In 1885 the General Assembly created the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home at Quincy to provide subsistence and a home for honorably discharged and disabled veterans of the Mexican and Civil Wars.  The cemetery used primarily for the burial of soldiers who died while in the home became the basis for the national cemetery at Quincy.  Records of inmates between 1887 and 1916 is available in the Database of Soldiers' and Sailors' Home Residents.  After obtaining the resident number from the index, the researcher can request an uncertified and unofficial photocopy of his case file. Charges for the copy and details of the type of information contained in the file are on the Secretary of State webstie.

Regimental Histories[edit | edit source]

The Illinois State Historical Library has a sizable collection of regimental histories. Two bibliographies published in 1994 are:

  • Tubbs, William B., comp. A Bibliography of Illinois Civil War Regimental Sources in the Illinois State Historical Library. Part I, Published and Printed Sources. Illinois Historical Journal. (Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Historical Society) vol. 87, no.3 (Spring 1994): 185–232. (Family History Library book 977.3 B2i). This is arranged by the name of the military unit and cites unit histories, reunion literature, and other published materials.
  • Part II, Manuscripts. Volume 87, no.4 (Winter 1994): 277–324. Manuscripts cited include such items as letters, diaries, personal papers of regimental officers and official correspondence.

Confederate Prisoners[edit | edit source]

Confederate prisoners were held in Illinois at Camp Douglas, Camp Butler, Rock Island, and Alton. Lists of both Union and Confederate soldiers buried at various camps are at the Illinois State Archives, Record Group 301.61. Some published records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog by using a Place Search under:



Camp Douglas is the only Illinois prison camp that did not result in the establishment of a National Cemetery.  Oak Woods Cemetery, in Chicago, contains a mass burial of between four and six thousand Confederate soldiers, prisoners who died at Camp Douglas.  A monument known as the Confederate Mound was erected in their memory.  The website Graveyards of Illinois contains photos of the plaques that list all known burials of Confederate prisoners at the site.

The website Genealogy Trails includes Confederate Soldiers buried in Illinois.

An Act of Congress passed in 1906 established the right to mark Confederate graves in the National Cemeteries and the privilege for later deceased Confederate veterans to be buried in them.  Their burials are included in the NPS Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.

Contraband Camps[edit | edit source]

The web site Last Road to Freedom has information on America's Civil War contraband Camps.

Civil War Contraband Camps in Illinois were located in Cairo and Mound City

Veterans Organizations[edit | edit source]

By 1890, about 40 percent of the Civil War veterans were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The descriptive books of each GAR post usually indicate the member’s name, age, rank, birthplace, residence, occupation, and enlistment and discharge information.

  • A manuscript of members of GAR posts for the Department of Illinois, 1880 to 1930, and of other veterans organizations are at the Illinois State Historical Library. See the "Archives and Libraries" section for the address. Scattered records may be found in various libraries and archives throughout Illinois. Many GAR posts are identified in:
  • Hutchison, Florence. 800 Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Illinois. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. (Family History Library film 1036109, item 6). This is a microfilm of an original typescript (10 leaves) written in 1974. This tells where each post was located.

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)[edit | edit source]

Grand Army of the Republic founded in 1866 - 1956, was the largest veteran’s organization in the country after the Civil War. It was a fraternal organization members were veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutler Service who served in the American Civil War. The group supported voting rights for black veterans, and lobbied the U.S. Congress to establish veterans' pensions. In 1890 the membership was 490,000.

In 1888 there were 552 posts and 30,293 members in the state of Illinois

GAR Posts in the State of Illinois

The FamilySearch Catalog list records of  theIllinois Grand Army of the Republic.

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War[edit | edit source]

With the death of the last member of the Grand Army of the Republic the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed.

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Biographical data on Union officers from Illinois are in:

  • Wilson, James Grant. Biographical Sketches of Illinois Officers Engaged in the War Against the Rebellion of 1861. Chicago, Illinois: J. Barnet, 1862. (Family History Library book 977.3 D3w; fiche 6049393 [set of 5]).

Biographical information can also be found in personal letters, diaries, interviews, and memoirs, some of which might have been published. (Click on the link to view "The memoirs, diary, and life of Private Jefferson Moses, Company G, 93rd Illinois Volunteers," as an example.)

A significant collection of unpublished letters, reflecting the experience of Illinois soldiers and civilians during the Civil War, is in the collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Manuscript Collection. Located at 112 North Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 62701-1507. Telephone: (217) 558-8844. Fax: (217) 785-6250. Appointments are necessary for research in the Manuscripts. Please make arrangements by telephone or mail. Manuscripts: (217) 785-7942. This collection includes the famous Sullivan Ballou letter used in Ken Burn's Civil War documentary.

Other Sources[edit | edit source]

  • Illinois GenWeb's Illinois in the Civil War site pulls together several types of resources regarding Civil War soldiers including the general order which describes how units were to be organized and photographs of many of the soldiers.
  • Illinois in the Civil War allows searching muster rolls by name, unit, or county and offers additional Civil War-related resources.
  • The Civil War Archive has links to all the Illinois Civil War units and what battles each unit fought.
  • Reece, J. N. (Jasper N.). Report of the Adjutant General of the state of Illinois. (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974), FHL film 1001124.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Illinois in the American Civil War. (accessed 24 January 2011)
  2. United States. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, (Washington, District of Columbia: Govt. Print. Office, 1880-1901), Series 3, Volume 4, page 1270. FHL book 973 M29u ser.3 v. 3, FHL film 845422.