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The Illinois 40th Infantry

The 40th Illinois Infantry Regiment was organized on August 10, 1861 and was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee (just as the 48th Illinois Regiment was) but did not see battle until the Battle of Shiloh Church in April 1862.

Several years ago Frank Pixley made copies of two regimental histories, one of which was the 40th Illinois history and gave them to the Wabash County Museum. According to the 40th Illinois unit history, written by Sgt. Ephraim J. Hart of Company E from Mt. Erie, Illinois, attorney Stephen G. Hicks of Salem, IL began raising the 40th Illinois Regiment on May 1, 1861 but was not allowed to admit his regiment until July 25, 1861. Attorney Hicks received permission for the regiment to move to camp at Clear Lake, near Springfield on August 6, 1861 and then had to arrange transportation on the Ohio and Mississippi railroad himself by going to St. Louis and meeting with the president of the railroad. Men from Wabash County apparently marched, or otherwise moved to Xenia, Illinois where they joined the rest of the 40th Illinois. As the special train passed through other towns more companies of men boarded the train as it made its way north to the camp. In each community along the route, great crowds of patriotic well-wishers gathered around the railroad stations, playing music, cheering and sometimes even treating all the recruits to meals before the train left for the next city. The regiment had 681 men when mustered in and with additional recruits later had a total of 920 men. They came from Hamilton, Franklin, Marion, White, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash and Clay counties.

When first arriving in camp the 40th Illinois was issued guns referred to as the old “Harpers’ Ferry” muskets with percussion locks and began to drill every day. On Friday August 30th the regiment moved to the Mississippi River and the steamer Des Moines transported the men to Birds Point, Missouri opposite Cairo, Illinois. On September 5 they received their uniforms and began to do picket duty. Within 2 days they moved to Paducah, Kentucky to join several other Illinois regiments. Paducah is located on the Ohio River at the mouth of the Tennessee River at the terminus of the Ohio and New Orleans railroad. This strategic point was occupied to keep the rebels from transporting supplies up the Tennessee River.

This is the home made shaving mug made by Ed Pixley while he was in the 40th Illinois Infantry. It was purchased at an auction for the Wabash County Museum several years ago. The back is still marked with a paper tag with his name. Ed was active in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) for many years.

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