The Civil War in Illinois

Illinois troops, like most other Union soldiers, organized in units linked to their state and locality rather than the regular Army. The 45th Illinois, hailing from Galena, became known as the "Lead Mine Regiment." The 34th Illinois, raised in Dixon, dubbed itself the "Rock River Rifles." Troops often organized themselves in outfits comprised of specific ethnic groups or occupations. Illinois sent regiments of Germans, Irish, Scots, and other ethnicities, as well as units comprised solely of Jews. Units made up of railroad men, schoolteachers and ministers joined a "Temperance Regiment" in service.

Camp Butler and Camp Douglas, huge new military installations, opened outside of Springfield and Chicago, respectively. These facilities housed most Illinois troops before they departed for the South, as well as a growing list of Confederate prisoners. Cairo and Mound City in Illinois' southern tip became major military depots as well. Cairo served as the western armies' base of operations, ferrying rations, ammunition and other supplies downstream to troops in the field. Mound City hosted the Union Navy on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In its foundry workmen converted steamboats into gunboats.

This site presents primary source material from the Civil War era in Illinois. These materials include letters, diaries and reminiscences of Union soldiers. But they also include important documents, images, and other resources from the home front.