January/February 2004

In Memoriam

It is with the utmost regret that I announce the untimely death of one of our members.  On Sunday, February 15, 2004, Matt Lazzara, a private in the 104th passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Matt and his father Scott were staples at many events and had made the long trek to Gettysburg in 1998 for the 135th.  Matt was 21 years old when he succumbed.  In the few years that he was with us, he became a favorite of many of us.  He was a serious re-enactor, who had a great sense of humor and put up with razzing. To say he has been missed over the last few years is an understatement.  To say that he will be missed from now on is obvious. Our heart-felt condolences go out to his family and friends.

The following is the notice that was published in the Chicago Tribune Published February 19, 2004:

Matthew D. Lazzara was not only an avid fan of punk rock music but also a history buff and walking compendium of facts on the Civil War. Mr. Lazzara, 21, of Western Springs, died Sunday, Feb. 15, in his home, of cancer. "I'd always hoped Matt would live long enough to change the world, even if it was just a little at a time," said his father, Scott. "He had such a good head and heart." Born in Hinsdale, Mr. Lazzara grew up in Western Springs and graduated from Lyons Township High School in 2000. "He'd always been a voracious reader," said his father. "His favorite subject was history and he knew so much about it." At age 14, at the urging of one of his high school teachers, Mr. Lazzara attended his first Civil War re-enactment. He interviewed several participants and wrote a report on what he learned. "He amazed many of the [people] he spoke with, not only because of his grasp of dates and things like that, but with his understanding of the weaponry used during the war," said his father. A few years later, he became a re-enactor and joined the 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Mr. Lazzara was also worked as a gaffer and grip on corporate productions in which his father was involved. He also worked at a cable television station in Berwyn. He was an active volunteer for Food Not Bombs. Mr. Lazzara is also survived by his mother, Kathleen Sheridan; a brother, Michael; paternal grandparents, Samuel and Lucille; and maternal grandparents, Philip and June Sheridan. Mass will be said at 11:15 a.m. Thursday in St. John of the Cross Church, 5005 Wolf Rd., Western Springs.

Donations can be directed to the Matt Lazzara Fund through the American Cancer Society.

Captains Column

Annual Meeting…

Our Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, January 31, 2004 at Salerno’s Restaurant, in Joliet IL. I would like to thank everyone who attended for making it a success. We had more than 30 members in attendance this year. This was an election year and everything was up for grabs, both military and executive board positions. A full report on the meeting can be found later in this newsletter. We set our schedule of events for the 2004 season, and found there were of a couple of events that we attended last year that will not be held this year, so it puts a couple of voids in our schedule. This schedule is posted elsewhere in the newsletter.  So, if anyone has a lead on an event or living history, let me know. A well deserved congratulations to Dan Davis, this year’s recipient of the Calvin R. Morgan “Soldier of the Year” award.

February Drill…

We had good drill weather, considering it is February. We had 13 members brave the elements. I did keep them out of the snow, as we took advantage of the driveway and the street. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the efforts put forward during this drill proves that we are up to the challenge. During break, yes, we had a break to warm up, and there were hotdogs and hot chocolate. The 104th Illinois would like to thank Kevin McDonald, and his family for the use of their place for our use and abuse.  Our next drill is on March 14, and all of us should plan to be there.

March 6, St. Charles, IL St. Pat’s Parade…

This parade supports one of our battalion member units, the 8th IL Cavalry and the Farnsworth Mansion. It is held in St. Charles, IL on March 6, 2004. It is a short parade, mostly, if not all down hill, through Main Street, across the river, and ends in a park across from McNally’s Pub where we will retire to afterwards. If you are interested in attending, please give me a call (708) 343-5792, or email me at pskalak@wabtec.com, and I will forward you the information.

March 13, Springfield, IL…

The trip to the Illinois National Guard & Militia Museum and Flag Preservation Facility is scheduled for Saturday, March 13, 2004. It will start at 1:00 PM at the museum and then move on to the flag facility. I need to send in a head count by March 6, 2004, so let me know soon if you are interested in attending. Please give me a call at (708) 343-5792, or email me at pskalak@wabtec.com. Carpooling is encouraged because of the limited parking at the museum.

March 14, Drill, Deerfield, IL…

March Drill will take place at Trinity College in Deerfield.  I will be sending out an email for directions.  Some of you veterans may remember where the site is.  It is near Illinois Route 22, east of the Tri-State Tollway.  We will be using the drill field weather permitting; however, bring gym shoes if we need to go inside, we can drill in the gym. NOTE: NO POWDER OR CAPS.

Early Schedule…

The full schedule is posted elsewhere, but I want to bring attention to events that are new to us or that we have not attended lately that will happen the first half of the season. We are going to have company/1st Illinois battalion drill the weekend of May 1, & 2, in Ft. Wayne, IN. There will also be a battle each day for spectators. The Black Hats and Cumberland Guard are also using this for their drill weekend, along with Medich’s Battalion and the Independent Guard. This is the very next weekend after Keokuk, so plan accordingly. Billie Creek Village in Rockville, IN June 12 & 13 is an event we have not been to for a couple of years and many of the members wanted to go back there for a change of pace, and it is now a 1st Illinois battalion event. I will keep you informed as information becomes available.

The National event voted on by the members this year is the Atlanta Campaign, September 17-19, 2004.  We will be going down as the 1st Illinois Battalion.

I’ll see you in the field,
Paul Skalak
Capt., Commanding
104th Illinois Vol. Inf., Co. H
1st Illinois Battalion

Cyber War

Email any info for the newsletter to me at: jjamnova@earthlink.net or jjamnova2@hotmail.com

The website address is www.104thillinois.com

2004 Tentative Schedule

Drill Deerfield..…….….………..March 14

Drill Bloomington..…..…………..April 17

Keokuk (Tentative)……………April 24/25

Ft. Wayne………………………………..May 1/2

Cemetery Tour…………………………..May 31

Billie Creek……………………….June 12/13

4th of July Parades…………………….July 5

Wauconda…………………………..July 10/11

Merrillville….…………July 31/August 1

Ottawa Riverfest and Parade..August?

Atlanta…………………….September 17/19

Greenbush……………....September 26/27

Minooka……………………….October 16/17

December Drill…………………December 7

Other events that may be included are:

·         Green Bay Wisconsin

·         Galesburg, Illinois (Drill only)

·         Union Illinois

·         Cresston, Illinois

·         Princeton, Illinois

Notable by their absence:

·         Glenview

·         Rockford

·         Lockport

Dates will be firmed up as they become available.

History of the 104th Now Available

Good news!  "The History of the One Hundred and Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, War of the Great Rebellion, 1862 - 1865" by William Wirt Calkins, published by Donohue and Henneberry, Chicago, 1895, is now available as a facsimile reprint!

It is published by Ward House Books, a subsidiary of Higginson Book Co., 148 Washington St., Salem, MA 01970.  Phone: 978-745-7170.  Price $65 + shipping, etc.

Web address is


HOWEVER, the 104th history is so new to their list that it isn't detailed on the Illinois page as you surf through; click on the link to the 102nd IL to get a partial list that includes the 104th. Or, simply use this link:


I thought that before I shot my mouth off and told everybody about it, I had better get a copy. Well, that was my excuse, anyway...  Delivery took about 2 1/2 weeks.  The quality is excellent, good heavy acid neutral paper, in a heavy-duty cloth library binding. My only real complaints being that the photos are so-so and that there are scanner marks in some of the margins.  So, if you have been wanting to read about the brave men of the 104th we represent, you FINALLY have your chance!

Kevin McDonald
Bugler, 104th IL

From the Ranks...

 Annual Meeting

The 104th held its annual meeting on January 31 in Joliet.  Thanks to Dan Davis for making the arrangements. The restaurant was a good place for the meeting.  The Captain put together a nice PowerPoint presentation, highlighting the past year.  Looking back, we had a bunch of fun.  Good events and great events.  Fair events that were much better than they were in the past.  We have a great bunch of guys that really make reenacting a lot of fun.

The food was first rate.  The commissary provided a wide variety of pizzas and of course, the bar was a frequent destination of most of the graybeards.  It was a low key event for the most part, but the election of officers provided a highlight.  In spirited voting, new company and military officers were elected to new positions.

The newly elected officers are shown on Page 2.  Congratulations to them all.  But maybe a warning too.  There are some very rambunctious privates in the unit looking to give their officers what for (See below).

Isn't it funny that the acting treasurer at the meeting (Ne'er do well Nixon) all of a sudden is planning a vacation. He appeared a little loose with the company funds here at the meeting.  And didn't I see him driving a new car last week.  Harrumph, harrumph.

We were honored with guests who were able to attend.  These included the staff of the 10th Illinois, who are also co-members of the 104th.  Also, Colonel Shackleford, commander of the Cumberland Guard was present.  It's good to have friends in high places.  The spirit of cooperation extends both inside and outside the Illinois Battalion. I look forward to falling in with the group in the upcoming season.   And by the way, when we get that dress code worked out for the meeting please tell me.  Seems I came in the wrong color blouse.

Finally, I want to thank you all for electing me to Capt. and 1st Sergeant.  Although I lost the obvious popular vote (due in part to the darn Iowa caucuses) I will be taking over as I won the back room, secretive electoral high school (I couldn't afford college). Therefore, I will be getting this unit from the slovenly shape it is in now, to a well-oiled machine.  But I'm not stopping there.  I see a future in presidential politics here.  Yeah, yeah…President Calvin.  Has a nice ring to it.  See you all in Florida.  I have some friends in high places there that can guarantee elections.

You’re all my obedient servants

Soldier of the Year 2003

As in years past, the Annual Meeting served as time to honor a member of the unit who over the last year has provided leadership to the unit.  This year's choice was a never more deserving fellow.  Although his presence on the ranks has been limited due to an injury, his contribution to the unit has been enormous.  At many events, his presence as a living historian (which we all are) and expertise on Civil War firearms is invaluable.

In addition to his presence at events, he seems to make many drills and meetings. Furthermore he has been a source of equipment and knowledge to the boys in the ranks.  Who else could we bestow the Calvin Morgan Soldier of the Year Award in 2003 than one of my old pards formerly of the 20th Illinois, Dan Davis.

Pictured on the following page is Dan accepting the award at the meeting.  How appropriate.  Having been the fortunate recipient of the award in the past, I can say I feel even more honored to share this award with a guy like Dan.

Dan Davis - Soldier of the Year

The following is a neat perspective of what it is like to be the new.  We have ALL been the new guy at one time or another.  This is a great contribution.  Thanks Mark!  And never be afraid to ask any of us for help. (with the exception of that ne'er do well Nixon - watch your wallet when that one is around!)

Past In Review
First Year Perspective

By Mark Contratto

A Civil War class in college sparked my interest in this part of American History. I took advantage of my airline flight privileges to visit a few battlefields out east and later an article in the Chicago Tribune would get me interested in Reenactments. I would spend 12 as a spectator and was interested in participating, but the work schedule restricted the availability of weekends. When weekends opened up, I procrastinated about joining one of the many units that were recruiting. After being invited to join the 104th, there was still some trepidation about committing to this hobby.

After three bitterly cold drills, Lyons Farm would be my first event. After the winter practices, drilling with the larger numbers was a bit intimidating. This would be the first time I would load and fire the Enfield.

Ottawa was the site of many one-day events. A vehicular caravan toured half dozen cemeteries on Memorial Day, the longest event in terms of time and miles. Then came July and the Riverfest parade in Ottawa.  I had heard that previous parades were something from Dante's Inferno, HOT.  This year’s parade saw a storm of Biblical proportions. High winds and rain shredded floats, and sent people running for cover. The nearby house had a very small porch, which had an air conditioner and two Ski-Doos on it. This small space would provide cover for the 104th.

On Patriots night, the band that played was entertaining.  The last event in Ottawa was the rededication of the Wallace window, at the Presbyterian Church. There was a presentation on Wallace and on the history of stained glass windows.

The Railroad Museum in Union, Illinois was a lot of fun. I saw what type of activities beyond drills and battles that could take place. A spy was removed from our ranks and shot. The details of this appeared in a previous newsletter.

Wauconda would be the first event that I would spend the night and a rather warm one at that. Due to sniper activity, Corporal McConnell found himself in command of the company on Saturday. Listened to the Corporals calling me, echoed eerily through the woods. Thought that the snipers furious loading would be the demise of our fearless leader, but he wasn't quick enough. The Corporal was giddy at getting the kill.

Sunday morning at Lockport was extremely entertaining. An attempt was made to embarrass the First Sergeant. It backfired with disastrous consequences.

Princeton. Arrived early Saturday morning. There was plenty of Artillery, Cavalry and Medical. The infantry consisted primarily of Sharpshooters. The 104th was the primary blue clad infantry. A few others would fall in with us over the weekend. On Sunday the line held for a while. The Rebels overwhelming numbers began to take its toll. We took to the cover of our relocated fences. There was no questioning the inevitable. An unfortunate accident shortened the battle and served as a reminder about the dangers and safety. The individual was checked and given the okay by the medics.

Minooka was the last Hurrah. It was a pleasant weekend. The Rebels did not want to play early Sunday morning during the tactical. Hours later, a merry chase ensued, that covered a lot of ground. The Captain kept us fired up, afterwards. The 104ths colors were used during the afternoon's engagement.

As the season progressed, I became more comfortable with drill and the firing became quicker. I still struggle with some things, but this is from the lack of repetition and forgetting. I prefer the second rank, as I feel comfortable there. I have someone to follow, making drill and marching easier. I will continue to be mindful of my footing during firing as well as the comfort of the front rank. Stacking arms still continues to be a mystery. I thank all of you who pushed and pulled me through; made suggestions and answered my questions. It made things easier.

In the future, my biggest struggle will be participating in the activities that fill the time not devoted to drills and battles. I will try to avoid becoming the center of attention and other uncomfortable situations. The thought of being singled out is terrifying. It takes me awhile to find a comfort level. That level will probably be in a supporting role. There are others more qualified for the leading roles. I enjoyed myself this past year and look forward to the coming year. I look forward to renewing old acquaintances and making new ones.

Ramblings from the high private…

Each year one of the my duties is to pick a “Soldier of the Year.” Some of the previous winners were difficult choices because more than one could have been chosen. Dan Davis’ selection was a slam-dunk.

Calvin sang the praises of Dan earlier in the newsletter and everything he said was true. Dan was a great supporter of the 20th Illinois when we were all in that unit, and when the 104th was formed Dan was always there when we needed him. He’s helped everyone from the fresh fish to the veterans. I count myself very fortunate to be able to call Dan a friend. He’s a true gentleman.

Paul told you about the passing of Matt Lazzara, whom many of you never met. Well, you all know how I feel about kids in general. Like W.C. Fields said when asked how he liked children he replied, “Well done.” That’s been my general attitude toward kids, but when I met Matt and his father Scott, I just liked that kid. He had a great attitude, he fit right in with rest of the boys and for his age was very knowledgeable about the Civil War era. After he became ill he never came back out to visit but Scott kept us up to speed with how he was doing. Matt Lazzara would have fit right in with our current crop of youngsters and it’s a shame they never had a chance to meet him. I would guess right now he’s getting acquainted with some of the men we try to emulate. And, Matt, in the event some of us end up where you are, find us a good campsite.

Just prior to the 104th annual meeting I attended the annual meeting of the 1st Illinois Battalion. No earthshaking news from that meeting. The battalion schedule is detailed in the 104th schedule shown elsewhere in the newsletter. The big trip will be to the 140th Anniversary Battle of Atlanta in September. This should be a great trip and if you can spare an extra day or two there’s a lot to see in the Atlanta area. I’ve always wanted to visit the Atlanta History Center, which reportedly has some fabulous exhibits.

The other important event is the reenactment/ drill at Ft. Wayne, IN the first weekend of May. We will be working on battalion and brigade drill. Please make every effort to make this one.

See you in the field,
Rick Keating

President, 104th Illinois

The following is important info on the latest changes to Illinois Law from Ricky Holman, Esq.

Law Update

Recently the law has changed reference to Firearm Owner Identification Cards (FOID).

OLD LAW: We did NOT need FOID cards if our muskets were REPLICAS of a percussion cap weapon that WOULD HAVE BEEN manufactured on or before the year 1898.

NEW LAW: The word "replica" has been removed from the definition of antique firearm adopted by the Director of State Police.

THEREFORE: You must now have a FOID card to possess a firearm or replica of any firearm manufactured during or after the year 1899. You do not need a FOID card to possess a firearm manufactured before or during the year 1898.

The State of Illinois requires all persons to have a FOID Card in order to possess a firearm. The law that applies can be found at 430 ILCS 65/1 et seq.  This law is called the FIREARMS OWNERS IDENTIFICATION CARD ACT. 430 ILCS 65/2(a)(1) states,

 "No person may acquire or possess any firearm within this State without having in his or her possession a Firearm Owner's Identification Card previously issued in his or her name by the Department of State Police under the provisions of this act."

430 ILCS 65/1.1 defines firearm as follows "'Firearm' means any device, by whatever name known, which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas or escape of gas; EXCLUDING, HOWEVER: (4) an antique firearm (other than a machine gun) which although designed as a weapon, the Department of State Police finds by reason of the date of its manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics is primarily a collector's item and is not likely to be used as a weapon."

The Director of State Police recently changed the definition of "Antique Firearm" by adopting the same changes the Federal Government made. The definition is found in the Illinois Administrative code at 20 ILL. ADM. Code 1230.10 DEFINITIONS: "'ANTIQUE FIREARM' means, for the purpose of 430 ILCS 65/1.1(4), any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system manufactured in or before 1898, provided it is not likely to be used as a weapon".

Please note that the phrase "or replica" has been removed from the definition of antique firearm. Minors (unemancipated persons under the age of 18) do not need FOID cards so long as they are "in the custody and immediate control" of their parent, legal guardian, or person in loco parentis to the minor so long as the parent, legal guardian, or person in loco parentis has a current valid FOID card. 430 ILCS 65/2(b)(11).

You must always have a FOID card in order to possess any gunpowder or ammunition. Bottom line and my advice, get your FOID cards and check to see if your current card is valid!

For our OUT OF STATE Pards, you do NOT need an Illinois Firearms Identification Card. You MUST be in compliance with your own individual State Laws, and you MUST carry all weapons in a case and place it preferably in the trunk or bed of your truck. If you have a van with no outside carrier, place the weapons in a case and to the rearmost portion of the interior of your van. The reason for this is Illinois law prohibits any weapon, case or uncased, to be readily accessible to the driver. Case law says the back seat IS readily accessible and therefore a crime of Unlawful Use of Weapons.  See you in the field!

Henry Simonton


Randy Swanson brought up a good point to me after presenting last months song, Marching Through Georgia.  He pointed out that this was written in 1865 (like I showed).  By the time the song would have tracked out to the troops, even if it had been written in January, the war may have been over.  That's true.  Uncle Billy didn't reach Savannah until near Christmas 1864.  He notified Washington of the capture of Savannah near the end of 64.  Therefore, some intrepid writer could have had the song done in January.

These are all good points.  But arguing music with ole Calvin is a futile effort.  I must reiterate again, that I am THE most musically retarded person on the face of the planet.   Sing on key?  Heck I have a hard time finding my keys.

So I defer the argument to others.  While the copyright date is 1865, could it have been in the camps before war's end?  Who knows.  All I know is that when the musicians play a song, I assume it to be correct.  If the timing is late war versus early war, again I leave that to the musicians.  When they play a song, and if I know the words I will caterwaul them.  If you have a feeling on the matter, please let me know.  Right now, I plan on heading into the shower to practice the newest medley I have learned;

Mine eyes have seen the glory….!!!



Another in a series of songs has been provided here.  An oldie but a goodie.  I have to admit, I have never heard a version of the song with the third stanza.  I have memorized the words to all the others, but the third one mystifies me.  Therefore, on the march, if we omit that one, it is okay by me.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning
Of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.


Glory, Glory Hallelujah
Glory, Glory Hallelujah
Glory, Glory Hallelujah
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires
Of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an alter
In the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence
By the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.


I have read a fiery gospel
Writ in burnished rows of steel:

"As ye deal with my contemners,
so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman,
Crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."


He has sounding forth the trumpet
That shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men
Before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.


Reprinted from:
The Atlantic Monthly, February 1862, Volume 9, No. 52, Page 10





Thanks to Benjamin Tubb of 
The Music of the American Civil War (1861-1865) 
for permission to use his MIDI file of 
Welcome! Welcome! Gallant Soldiers. 
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission. 

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