104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company H

Calvin R. Morgan
"Soldier of the Year" Award

                                                    1996    Robert Stewart

        1997    Ricky Holman

        1998    Brian Chamberlain

        1999    Jim Novak

        2000    Scott Blakeley

        2001    Steve Skalak

        2002    Matt Cassady

        2003    Dan Davis

        2004    Rich Hill / Don Jarrett

        2005    Pete DellaVedova

        2006    Mark Contratto

                                             2007    Mark Stonikas

                                             2008    Unit Citation

                                             2009    Pete DellaVedova

                                             2010    Jay Perkins

                                             2011    Steve Skalak

                                             2012    Jonathan Johnson

                                             2013    Unit Citation

                                             2014    Ernie Heine

                                             2015    Jim Esparza / Kevin Skalak

                                             2016   Steve Dittman

                                             2017    Paul Skalak

                                             2018    Paul Skalak

                                             2019    Rich Pasquinelli

                                             2020    Rick Keating

                                             2021    John Kotek



Calvin Morgan and the 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

On January 19, 1996, the 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company H, was formed in Varna, IL.  December 7, 1996 the 104th Illinois was in Hartsville, Tennessee to commemorate the Battle of Hartsville.   For you newer members, Hartsville was the first battle for the original 104th and was a disaster.  John Hunt Morgan attacked early on the morning of the 7th of December.  After an hour and a half of fighting the 104th was the last unit to surrender, and Company H was the last of the 104th to surrender.

While in Hartsville we met two local men, James Hicks and Calvin Morgan, who fell in with us for the weekend.  One of Calvin's dreams was to be able to participate in the reenactment of the battle of Hartsville.  James told us ever since the announcement of the event all Calvin talked about was being in the battle. 

Calvin tried to march to the courthouse with us but could only go a block before being exhausted. He and James fell out and James drove him downtown so he could participate in the skirmish. Afterward he brought Calvin back to the camp. Calvin returned for Sunday's battle.  James filled us in on Calvin's condition so we tried to involve Calvin as much as possible. I ended up positioning him next to the artillery where he could shoot during the battle. He looked like a kid in a candy store. At one point during the battle I went over and asked him how he was doing and he looked at me and said, "Captain, it's a good day to die." I had to turn away as my eyes filled with tears. I knew what he meant. Getting to know Calvin and James was the highlight of the weekend. The other highlight was being able to tour the battlefield where the 104th fought and stand where their camp was. I could almost feel Isaac Vaughn (my great-great-grandfather) looking down on us.

Calvin's story is one of courage and determination and was the inspiration to name our Soldier of the Year award after him.  Calvin Morgan passed away not to long after the Battle of Hartsville.


by Rick Keating


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