104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry,
As our bylaws state, The purpose of the 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company H. Historical Association Inc., hereinafter referred to as Company H. is educational.
A) To promote a public awareness of the men and women who served and supported the Armies of the United States, particularly citizens from the State of Illinois from 1861 through 1865.
B) To preserve the memory of the men of the 104th Infantry, Company H. and their contribution, loyalty, sacrifice, and integrity preserving the Union of the United States of America through education for the public.
C) To provide a forum for people to study, learn, and practice the life skills of people living in the State of Illinois from 1861 through 1865.
D) To promote honorable camaraderie and good citizenship within the body of persons who comprise this Association.
Who are we?
The 104th Illinois is made up of people from all walks of life. From our youngest members to the oldest, all have one thing in commonÖ a desire to learn as much as possible about the common Western Federal soldier and his daily life during the war. Our camp impression is that of an army on the move using mostly shelter tents. Some members prefer to bivouac. We donít use camp furniture other than what may have been found in camps, such as cracker or ammunition boxes. Many members have taken a name from the original roster of the 104th and have been researching and developing first person impressions based on information available about that particular person. The 104th Illinois is always looking for quality recruits, whether new to the hobby or a veteran reenactor.
What do we do?
The 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Co. H, is a Civil War reenacting unit based mostly in Northern and Central Illinois. We strive to educate the public and ourselves through an accurate portrayal of a mid to late war Union infantry soldier in the western theater. Our unit consists of separate military and civilian camps. The military members live the life of an Illinois infantry soldier by: drilling, camping, standing guard and fighting for the Union during the course of a weekend reenactment.
When are we in the field?
We have events scheduled year round. January is our annual meeting, drill and party. We drill once a month during the winter months to keep our veterans sharp and maintain our level of experience. It is also a good time to train, teach, and prepare the new recruits for the upcoming campaign season. Our battle reenactment season begins in earnest the last week of April, in Keokuk, Iowa. We have one to two events every month through the end of October. In December we start our monthly drills and begin planning for the next year. We also gather to take part in parades, memorial ceremonies, and other events throughout the year. Members are encouraged to attend as many events as possible.
Where do we go?
Most of our events are in the Central and Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana. We also attend at least one large national event at an actual battlefield site each year. In 1997, we attended the 135th anniversary battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. In 1998 we went to 135th anniversary battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. In 1999 we attended the 136th anniversary battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. In 2000 we attended the 135th anniversary battle of Bentonville in North Carolina and Wilson's Creek in Missouri. We help one another getting to and from events by carpooling. We try to find a ride for any member interested in attending a battle reenactment, regardless of location. Many members will go out of their way to help.
How does it work?
The 104th Illinois Infantry is one of the founding members of the 1st Illinois Battalion. We are also members of the Black Hat Battalion, and the Cumberland Guard. With our affiliation with the above units, we never feel pushed aside at any event we attend. We set up each perspective recruit with a veteran reenactor. He will help you get familiar with the company members and what is expected of you as a recruit. Though your mentor will be your main source of information, anyone will help you when you need it. We have enough loaner equipment to completely outfit 1-2 recruits for a weekend. This way, you can try it before you buy it. If after an event you decide this is not for you, there will be no hard feelings. If however, after your first event you decide this is for you, our veteran reenactor will be more than happy to help you spend your money.
How much does it cost?
The cost for equipping an infantry soldier is approximately $1000. Don't panic! You donít have to buy your complete kit the first day. You can continue to use the loaner equipment until you get your kit in order, but remember, the loaner equipment is mainly for perspective recruits. Most new members have a complete kit in the first six months. You may also be able to buy used equipment from the veteran members. Our annual dues are $20 per family, and that includes a copy of our newsletter, To The Colors.
Why not give it a try?
You can read only so much about the Civil War but there comes a time to take to the field and experience a small taste of what our ancestors went through. Youíll have the opportunity to transport yourself back in time to drill, camp, stand guard, experience battles, and absorb the whole atmosphere of a Civil War camp. You have nothing to loose, and possibly a whole new world of enjoyment, recreation, and friendship to gain.
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Thanks to Benjamin Tubb
The Music of the American Civil War (1861-1865)
for permission to use his MIDI file of
Battle Hymn of the Republic.
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.