Originally organized in 1809, in 1861 the 9th Illinois Infantry responded immediately to the call of President Lincoln, a company commander in the regiment during the Black Hawk War. Many of those who mustered in were German immigrants.
The 9th was at Shiloh, Tennessee on April 6, 1862 when the Confederate Army of the Mississippi struck at dawn. Some Union regiments fled in panic as Major General U.S. Grant ordered his division commanders to hold at all costs.
Sent to reinforce the Union left, the 9th was told "There is going to be plenty of fighting today; there must be no cowards." South of the Peach Orchard, the regiment was ordered to a tree-choked ravine, and found themselves in a race with Confederates for the same natural barrier. The 9th got there first.
Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston remarked on the Illinois regiment's stubborn stand" as the 9th Arkansas and 29th Tennessee joined the fight. Finally, renewed attacks collapsed the 12th and 15th Illinois on the 9th's flanks and with their dead and wounded thick on the ground, the regiment had to withdraw. The 9th suffered 103 killed and 258 wounded on Shiloh's first day, one of the highest totals of the entire Civil War. Their 90-minute stand helped save Grant's left, and prepared the way for the great Union Counterattack the next day. The proud heritage of the 9th Illinois is carried on today by the 130th Infantry Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard.
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