87TH ILLINOIS INFANTRY
The Eighty-seventh Illinois infantry regiment was enlisted in August 1862 in Shawneetown, Illinois with Col. John E. Whiting, Lieutenant Col. John M. Crebs, and Major George W. Land as their Senior officers. This regiment was composed of companies A and E from Hamilton county, H company from Edwards County, D company from Wayne county and companies B, C, F, G, I, and K from White county. In the latter part of August 1862 the companies went into camp at Shawneetown, Illinois (called Camp Logan by the troops but with the official name of Camp Mather). This is where the organization of the regiment was effected, with the regiment mustered in on October 3, 1862, with the muster to take effect from August 2, 1862. By the end of 1862 the regiment consisted of 920 officers and men.
The 87th, was placed under orders from General John A. McClernand, to be “retained at Shawneetown to guard that frontier.” While stationed at Shawneetown, the 87th made a number of scouts into Kentucky, which was then infested by guerrilla bands and Adam Johnson ‘s rebel cavalry. Special Orders Number 167 from Headquarters Department of Ohio, dated December 19, 1862, ordered the 87th at Shawneetown Illinois to proceed without delay via Bowling Green Kentucky to Nashville Tennessee and report to Major General W. S. Rosecrans; commanding Department of the Cumberland. In December 1862 the regiment was assigned to the District of Memphis division, Left wing of the 16 corps of the Department of Tennessee.
A letter from Dr. Daniel Berry, to his wife dated January 20, 1863 discussed problems two companies of the 87th (most likely companies A and E) from was having accepting the President's Emancipation Proclamation. According to Dr. Berry, the men stacked their arm and swore they would not fight. In an article in the White County Democrat, Berry reports that LT. Colonel Crebs “made a talk of not more than 2 minutes. During the talk he told them that they were misguided and did not known what they were doing… that they were sworn into the service of the United States and that I (LT. Colonel Crebs) would give them just two minutes to pick up those guns. If at the expiration of that time they are not picked up, I shall consider you as rebels, and in an hour you will be on your way to Fortress Monroe as prisoners of War. This ended the situation. This account is supported by Special Order Number 167, dated February 12, 1863, from H. W. Hallech, General and Chief of all Union Forces. It stated “To Major General Horation G. Wright Cincinnati, Ohio: It is reported that two companies of Colonel Whiting’s regiment at Shawneetown Illinois are in a state of Mutiny. You will immediately take measures to suppress any such mutiny, and have this regiment sent into the field; and also all other not absolutely required in Illinois.” Again according to Dr. Berry this event lasted less than one day and in his opinion had much to do about new regulations limiting alcohol drinking.
On January 31, 1863 the regiment embarked on two transports Freestone and May Duke for Memphis Tenn., arriving there on February 4, 1863. Upon arrival, the regiment went into camp three miles southeast of the city, where the regiment performed picket duty. During this transfer and its first camp at Memphis, measles broke out, costing the regiment 250 men either dead or disabled. Dr. Berry writes, on February 8, 1863, of 40 men sick with measles and three deaths (from the disease). On the 15th of February Dr. Berry writes of measles and pneumonia on the rampage, with the regiment mustering only 400 men.
On April 4 1863 87th regiment pickets were attacked, by a Confederate force of approximately 20 men, with two men of the 87th regiment wounded.
While at that city, on March 17, 1863 the 87th and 63rd Illinois regiments, under the command of Colonel McCrillis, made a raid on Hernando, Mississippi. According to the official regimental history the Union forces are credited with capturing a great deal of property and putting a stop to the incursions of Col. Bligh’s partisan Confederate cavalry. According to Dr. Berry the regiment went 15 miles and halted at the house of a Captain McGinnis of the Confederate Army; where the two regiments and assigned cavalry proceeded to strip the area bare of all food and live stock. This was much to the dismay of Mrs. McGinnis and her daughter. The McGinnis’ cotton gin, cotton bales, and some of their slave quarters were burned. The next day in Hernando, again according to Dr. Barry, stores, banks, official records and personal property was either looted or destroyed by the Union forces. Brig. General James R. Chalmer (Confederate Army) reported on March 18, 1863 that an apart of his command under Major G.L. Blythe, skirmished with Union forces near Hernando. This raid pre-dates the famous Grierson raid of April 17 to May 1863. The 87th regiment may have been used to support Colonel Grierson’s raid, as Dr. Berry writes about the 87th