A Brief History of the 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

By Patrick McSherry
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General:

During its tour of duty relating to the Spanish American War, the 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantry saw service in Puerto Rico.

The History:

The 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantry formed around the 6th Illinois National Guard Regiment. The national Guard regiment was called out on April 26, and mustered into the federal service on May 11, 1898 at Springfield Illinois as the 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. At the time of mustering in, the regiment consisted of fifty officers and 973 enlisted men under the command of Col. Jack Foster and Lt. Col. Edward Kittilsen. The companies of the regiment were formed in the following locations and commanded as indicated.

Company A - Rock Island (commanded  by Capt. William H. McConochie)
Company B - Genesco (commanded  by Capt. John W. Reig)
Company C - Galesburg (commanded  by Capt. Thomas L. McGirr)
Company D - Abingdon (commanded  by Capt. Frank W. Latimer)
Company E - Sterling (commanded  by Capt. William F. Lawrie)
Company F - Moline (commanded  by Capt. Frank J. Clendenin)
Company G - Dixon (commanded  by Capt. Philip McGrath)
Company H - Monmouth (commanded  by Capt. William W. Shields)
Company I - Morrison (commanded by Capt. William F. Colebaugh)
Company K - La Moille (commanded by Capt. Wilbert Tourtilott)
Company L - Freeport (commanded by Capt. Charles B. Kling)
Company M - Galena (commanded by Capt. Henry G. Geiger)

Six days after being mustered in, the regiment was sent to Camp Alger at Dunn Loring, Virginia, where it arrived on May 20. Here is was assigned to the Second Army Corps' First Division. It was placed in the Division's Second Brigade. After a month and a half at Camp Alger, on July 5, the 6th Illinois was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, arriving the next day. After being in Charleston a short time, the regiment was ordered to Cuba, embarking on various transports between July 8 and July 10 bound for Cuba. The movement was started with Companies B, F, and I embarking on the transport(?) COLUMBIA. Company A embarked on the transport YALE on July 8. Companies C, E(?) G, H K, and L followed on the transport RITA on July 10. While the regiment was enroute, the Spanish troops around Santiago surrendered to Maj. Gen. William Shafter's Fifth Army Corps on July 17, ending the fighting in that area, the only place where the army's forces had landed. As a result, the companies that were sent to Cuba first went to Santiago, but remained off the coast touching at Siboney, Guantanamo Bay and Daiquiri. Companies D and M left on on the transport MOBILE on July 21, bound directly for Puerto Rico since they were no longer needed in Cuba.

On July 21 the regiment was redirected to join Maj. Gen. Nelson Miles expedition to Puerto Rico. The force finally offloaded at Guanica, Puerto Rico on July 25, with Company H taking part in the action four miles from Guanica the following day.

In Puerto Rico, the regment first marched to Yauco on July 30 amd then to Tallaboia the following day, arriving at Ponce on August 1. Companies D and M had arrived at Ponce on July 27 aboard the transport MOBILE. and joined the remainder of the regiment. After being in camp at Ponce until August 9, the regiment marched to Guaragnos, and then marched over the mountains to Adjuntas on August 11. While the regiment was at Adjuntas, an armistice was reached between Spain and the U.S., ending the war's fighting. On August 16th the 6th Illinois marched to Utuado, staying at that location until August 28. On that date the regiment began its march back to Ponce by way of Adjuntas. Several times during its stay in Puerto Rico, the regiment had the honor of serviing as General Miles' escort and was also involved in several small skirmishes.

The 6th Illinois left Ponce, Puerto Rico for Weehawken, New Jersey on September 7, 1898, on board the transport MANITOBA. Arriving six days later, the regiment rapidly moved on to Springfield, Illinois, where it arrived on September 16. At Springfield, the regiment received a sixty day furlough, and within three days, the men were on their way back to their homes. On November 25, the regiment was officially mustered out of the federal service. Aththe time of muster out, the regiment consisted of forty-nine officers and 1,224 enlisted men.

During its term of service, the regiment lost two officers and 22 enlisted men to disease. In addition, eleven enlisted men were discharged on disability and one enlisted man was court-martialed.



Bibliography:

"Brief History of the 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantry with Roster of the Regiment During Spanish War Period." (a pamphlet apparently published by the Reunion committee in 1931) 9-12.

Correspondence relating to the War with Spain And Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) 589-590.

The Weekly Northwestern. Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Saturday, July 23, 1898.

Statistical Exhibit of Strength of Volunteer Forces Called into Service During the War with Spain; with Losses from All Causes. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).


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