Submitted by Eric Benjaminson, Vienna, VA (Jordaan@aol.com)
The 82nd Illinois (also known as the Second Hecker Regiment, after its original colonel, Frederick Hecker) was mustered into service at Camp Springfield, IL on October 23, 1862. The regiment was raised in Chicago, and was composed almost exclusively of recent German immigrants. One company (Co.I) was Scandinavian. Another (Co.C) was made up of Jewish troops. The Lieutenant Colonel, later commander of the regiment and brevet Brigadier-General, was also Jewish, Edward Selig Salomon.Hecker and Salomon had previously served together earlier in the war in the 24th Illinois Infantry.
The 82nd was first assigned to the Eleventh Corps of the Army of the Potomac, in the First Brigade of General Carl Schurz's Third Division. During this period, they guarded the approaches to Fredericksburg during that disastrous campaign in December 1862, and participated in the subsequent "Mud March". In May 1863, the 82nd fought at Chancellorsville, and gave way with other units of the Gen. O.O. Howard's Eleventh Corps (although the 82nd for some considerable time fought bravely after the First Division's lines were ruptured). Col. Hecker was wounded at this battle, and Salomon became the regimental commander.
After Chancellorsville, the 82nd moved toward Gettysburg with the rest of the Corps. On the first day of that battle, the 82nd was placed on the extreme right flank of the Union line facing Ewell's attack near the famous "unfinished railroad cut". After severe fighting, it was, with the rest of the Federal Army, pushed back through the town of Gettysburg to positions along Cemetery Hill. On the second day of the battle, it opposed Confederate attacks on the Union right near Culp's Hill, at one point making a valiant charge to recover certain fortifications. The regiment suffered 131 casualties at Gettysburg.
In the fall of 1863, the 82nd joined Grant's forces near Chattanooga (the Union Twentieth Corps). At the Battle of Resaca, the regiment was instrumental in saving a Union battery and shoring up the left flank of Sherman's army through an opportune charge. It participated in actions at Marietta, Georgia, at Pine Mountain and in other battles during the Atlanta Campaign. The 82nd the marched with Sherman's forces from Atlanta to the sea, culminating with its taking part in two fierce engagements in March and April 1865 at Averasboro and Bentonville, North Carolina. On April 20, it marched via Richmond to Washington, arriving at Alexandria, VA on May 20. It participated in the Grand Review of the Union Army, and was subsequently mustered out on June 9 and returned to Chicago, arriving on June 16. The 82nd during its wartime service marched 2,503 miles, and returned to Illinois with only 300 of the original 1000-plus recruits.
Col. Salomon was brevetted a Brigadier-General of Volunteers just before war's end and later served as Governor of Washington Territory under President Grant and district attorney and California state legislator in San Francisco. Salomon died in that city in 1913.
© Copyright 1996-2007