Civil War Flags

104th Illinois Infantry-“La Salle County Regiment”

“Then shout after shout for bold Sherman
Went up from each valley and glen,
And the bugles re-echoed the music
That fell from the lips of the men;
For we knew that the stars on our banner
More bright in their splendor would be,
And that blessings from Northland would greet us
When Sherman marched down to the sea.”[1]       

The One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Infantry Regiment was organized at Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois during August of 1862.  The men in all of the companies volunteered from La Salle County with the exception of a few men in Company I who volunteered from nearby Evans Township in Marshall County.  The Regiment was mustered in at the “Fair Grounds” in Ottawa on August 27, 1862.  Although the Regiment was presented a flag by the patriotic ladies of Ottawa on September 1, 1862[2] it wasn’t until the men reached Camp Holt, near Louisville, Kentucky in mid September that they received uniforms and arms.  In mid October, the Regiment left Camp Holt, in pursuit of Confederate General Bragg; after passing through Frankfort, Bowling Green and Glasgow Kentucky, they reached Hartsville, Tennessee on the Cumberland River on December 1.  Early on the morning of December 7, Confederate forces commanded by General Morgan attacked the Union forces including the One Hundred and Fourth.  The inexperienced Union troops were soon outflanked, surrounded and captured. The Regiment was marched to Murfreesboro, Tennessee and paroled but Lieutenant-Colonel Hapeman and Major Widmer of the Regiment were sent to Libby Prison in Richmond where they remained until paroled in April 1863.  The Regiment was sent from Nashville to Camp Douglas in Chicago to guard rebel prisoners.  On April 12, 1863 the Regiment was exchanged and departed for Tennessee to join the Army of the Cumberland.  Major Widmer, who had been released from Libby Prison, rejoined the Regiment at Brentwood, Tennessee on April 18 and Lieutenant-Colonel Hapeman rejoined the Regiment on April 21.  On June 7, the One Hundred and Fourth joined the Army of Cumberland at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  The morning of June 24 the Army of the Cumberland embarked on the Tullahoma Campaign.  In that Campaign, the One Hundred and Fourth skirmished at Hoover’s Gap, at Manchester on the Elk River[3] and then went into camp at Decherd, Tennessee.  In mid-August the Union forces advanced toward the Cumberland Mountains in the Chickamauga Campaign.  They reached Stevenson, Alabama on August 30, crossed Sand Mountain on September 3 and Lookout Valley September 6.  Due to the Union advance, the Confederate forces under Bragg evacuated Chattanooga and marched south.  The Union forces followed and on September 10 the One Hundred and Fourth arrived at the Davis’ house west of Dug Gap in Pigeon Mountain, Georgia.  Skirmishing began on September 11 with fighting at Davis’ Cross Roads near Dug Gap and led to the Battle of Chickamauga on September 18 and 19, 1863.  In that battle the Regiment was heavily engaged and when the Union forces were forced to retreat the One Hundred and Fourth retired to Rossville, Georgia. For the next two months the Union Army held a defensive position on the outskirts of Chattanooga and it was during this time that General Grant took command of the Northern forces.  On November 23 the Union forces advanced to Orchard Knob and to the foot of Lookout Mountain; on the 24th the One Hundred and Fourth took part in the assault and capture of Lookout Mountain and on the 25th the Regiment’s flag is said to have been the first planted on Missionary Ridge.[4]   Bragg retreated and the One Hundred and Fourth joined in the pursuit of the rebels to Grayville and Ringgold, Georgia and then returned to Chattanooga.  The Regiment remained at Chattanooga until February 1864 when it was ordered to Nashville; in March the Regiment returned to Chattanooga and in May 1864 joined Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.  During May the Regiment fought at Rocky Faced Ridge, Buzzard’s Roost Gap, Resaca, and Pumpkin Vine Creek and in June at Dallas, New Hope Church, Allatoona Hills, Pickett’s Mills, Pine Mountain, Lost Mountain and Kenesaw Mountain.  In an attempt to stem the retreat of the Confederate forces, General Hood replaced Confederate General Johnston.  The Army of the Cumberland, containing the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois advanced across the Chattahoochie River and bivouacked on Peach Tree Creek.  On July 20, 1865 the Regiment crossed Peach Tree Creek at Howell’s Mills and formed in line of battle on the left of the Brigade.  The men began building works and about 4 pm were attacked on their right line and their right flank.  Half of the men in right five companies were killed or wounded but the Regiment reformed and aided by the Tenth and Twenty-first Wisconsin drove the rebels back and captured the rebel colors which had been planted on the Union works.[5]   The decimated ranks of the One Hundred and Fourth fought in the siege of Atlanta and at Jonesboro until Hood ordered the evacuation of the city on September 1; they then entered the city and remained there until October 3. Following the pursuit of Hood’s retreating forces into north Georgia and Alabama, the Regiment joined Sherman’s “March to the Sea” in mid November. After the siege of Savannah December 10-21, 1864, the Regiment moved north into the Campaign of the Carolinas and in 1865 saw action in the Salkehatchie Swamps, South Edisto River, North Edisto River, Congaree Creek, the Battle of Bentonville and occupied Goldsboro and Raleigh.  Following Johnston’s surrender the Regiment marched to Washington D. C. via Richmond and marched in the Grand Review on May 24. The Regiment moved to a camp across the river from Washington and was mustered out on June 6, 1865.[6]      

[1]  Calkins, William Wirt, The History of the One Hundred and Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Donohue & Henneberry, Chicago (1895) page 277.  Portion of a song composed by Lieutenant Byers of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry while in prison and quoted by Calkins.[2] Ibid, Calkins page 13[3] On July 2, 1863, the bridge over the Elk River was guarded by a small rebel stockade.  Volunteers from       Company D were selected to capture the stockade.  Sergt.  George Marsh led John Shapland, Richard Gage, Oscar Slagle, Lemuel Holland, George Houghton and Reuben Smalley in a successful capture of the stockade. For this action the men received the Medal of Honor.  Civil War Medal of Honor Winners from Illinois, ,published by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, July 1962.[4] Corporal Lemuel Holland carried the flag and the correspondent of the Nashville Press reported that the flag of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Infantry was the first to be planted on Missionary Ridge.  Ibid, Calkins, page181. [5] Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Hapeman, in command of the One Hundred and Fourth, was awarded the Medal of Honor –“With conspicuous coolness and bravery rallied his men under a severe attack, re-formed the broken ranks, and repulsed the attack at Peach Tree Creek, Georgia, July 20, 1864.”  Civil War Medal of Honor Winners from Illinois, Published by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, July 1962.[6] Ibid., Calkins. 

104th;  Illinois  Infantry  National  Flag

There is one national and one regimental flag from the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Infantry Regiment in the collection of the State of Illinois. Both flags bear a tag stating that the flag had been caThe inscription on the flag reads: 104th REGT.ILL'S VOL'S. "On September 1st, 1862, the One Hundred and Fourth, pursuant to orders, marched to the court house in Ottawa, and were presented with a beautiful silken flag by a number of Ottawa's patriotic ladies." Whether the flag mentioned in the history of the regi-ment is the flag displayed in this web site is unknown. In Regiment’s history, Calkins details the capture of the Regiment at the Battle of Hartsville, Tenn. Pre-sumably the flags of the Regiment were also captured at that time. The square canton and star arrangement on the national flag is typical of those flags manufac-tured by Hugh Wilkins of Louisville, Kentuckyptured.


104th;  Illinois  Infantry  Regimental  Flag

This Regimental flag bears a tag stating that this flag and the National flag were captured.This flag is characteristic of flags manufactured in Louisville by Hugh Wilkins.


Many of the photos are the property of and used with permission from the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois.

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