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On a cold winter’s day in New Creek, Virginia, Lieutenant Haycock made the recruiting discovery of his career.  Dispatched to recruit soldiers for Companies E and K of the 1st U.S. Cavalry, he hit the jackpot when he visited the camp of the 23rd Illinois Infantry.

The Timothy O’Connor inquiry (see previous post) turned out to be a thread that was very revealing about recruiting for the 1st U.S. Cavalry in the winter of 1862.  One member of the 23rd Illinois Infantry became 31 as I toured the regimental muster rolls, which fortunately are available online.  Looking up the regular enlistment records of those 31 revealed another 24 that were not specifically annotated as “transferred to 1st U.S. Cavalry” in the state muster rolls.

Fellow blogger and historian Damian Shiels has already done yeoman’s work with the 23rd Illinois and their nativity.  If interested please look here.  I made only a cursory look into their past to see the demographics of this group who chose to leave their comrades for a new beginning.

Of the 55 soldiers identified, I found regular enlistment records for 53.  I was not able to find John Kernan or James Haher.  Of the 53, 34 were born overseas and 19 in the United States.  Of the immigrants, 23 were born in Ireland, four in England, three in Germany and two each in Prussia and Scotland.  Interestingly, only four of the natives were born in Illinois, with five from New York, three each from Michigan and Ohio, and one each from Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

An examination of their service revealed that only eighteen of the 53 served out their enlistments, though two deserted and returned.  Sixteen of the new regulars deserted and did not return, one the following day.  Seven were discharged for disability.  Three were listed as missing in action, believed to be taken prisoner.  Of the eight who died, three were killed in action, two died of disease or wounds in Union hospitals, two died in Andersonville prison, and one died in a Richmond hospital while a prisoner of war.  The final soldier, incidentally the one from Pennsylvania, transferred to the Navy in 1864.

In addition to the members of the 23rd Illinois, the enlistment look-ups (which are listed on register pages) revealed 64 other volunteer enlistees into the regiment in November/ December 1862.  Out of curiosity, I looked into the demographics and service of this second group as well.  No birthplace was listed for four of the soldiers.  Only 19 of the remaining 60 were foreign born, as opposed to 41 natives.  Eleven were born in Pennsylvania, nine in New York, 6 in Massachusetts, four in Ohio, and two each in Virginia and Indiana.  One each was born in Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Vermont.  Of the 19 immigrants, 11 were born in Ireland, three each in England and Canada, and one each in Scotland and Germany.

Interestingly, the second group had a much higher rate of service than the men of the 23rd Illinois.  Nineteen of the 64 served out their enlistments, but a further 11 re-enlisted in early 1864.  Three from New York transferred back to volunteer units, and one was released by an order from the Adjutant General’s Office, possibly for the same reason.  (I have encountered the transfer issue before with the 2nd and 6th U.S., and it was the 60th and 70th New York Infantry on all occasions, involving an appeal to General Joseph Hooker.)  Seventeen of these soldiers deserted, and six others were discharged for disability.  Of the six who died, one was killed in action and one died in Andersonville prison.

Amongst the other nuggets turned up, this research also revealed 19 volunteer enlistees into the 2nd U.S. Cavalry during the same time period.  And I find myself curious about young Lieutenant Judson Haycock as well.  Thanks again for the query that started the ball rolling, Jimmy Price!


Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, Illinois Military Units in the Civil War, 1962.

NARA, RG 94, Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914

Regimental roster, accessed on June 27, 2013 at http://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/reg_html/023_reg.html

Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, 9 vols., 1900-1902, accessed on June 27, 2013 at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/reghist.pdf