The 87th regiment was somewhat typical of those regiments recruited after the first year and involved with the western armies. The low levels of personnel killed in action or mortally wounded 1.5% shows a regiment, which was not in heavy action. The average percentage of Illinois regiments personnel killed in action or mortally wounded during the civil war was 3.8%. The numbers of personnel of the 87TH regiment who died from disease or accident ( 21%) is at the very high end of typical regiments. The average for all Illinois regiments (death from disease or accident) was 8.6%. .
As for the combat ability of this regiment, there is not enough information to determine their ability. However the information that is available, after July 4, 1863, shows a regiment that is well trained and very disciplined. Their performance on both the 7th, 8th, and 9th of April 1864 was outstanding. Their ability to maintain combat formations during the rout of General Banks forces coupled with their very low percentage of desertions shows either a very well lead regiment or a strong bond of honor in the ranks; or both. The 87th regiment assignments (i.e. unloading boats during the siege of Vicksburg and numerous guard duties assignments) and lack of promotions to field grade or higher positions of their officers does not support the view that the regiment was viewed in high respect by their superiors. This view is supported by the order given by Washington D.C. headquarters regarding the “mutiny” in Shawneetown. In reviewing the history of the regiment many questions remain about the early quality of its’ leadership. Eight of the original 10 captains in charges of the companies resigned their commissions. Additionally, one must question why the commanding officer of the regiment (Colonel Whiting) was behind the lines with ½ of his regiment unloading boats while his second in command (LT. Colonel Crebs) was at the front lines of Vicksburg.
Office records and reports tend to support the view that Colonel Crebs was a competent military officer, if not above average. He appears to performed his duties (in “back water areas”) in professional manner. His performance during the regiment’s 1864 engagements was impressive. Promotions during the Civil war of field grade officers where based upon three factors: a sponsor with influence, a respected senior officer who view them with military favor, and professional performance. With the first two areas Colonel Crebs appears to be lacking.
One has to ask themselves what would have happen if the 87th had been fully tested in combat such as the 20th Maine regiment was on the extreme left flank of the Union position on July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top. This researcher opinion is that with Colonel Creb’s in command the regiment would have performed in a professional manner, bringing credit upon themselves and their home.