Pioneer History by Richard C. Schmal

The Civil War: 20th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers

(from the June 29, 1983, Lowell Tribune, page 20)

Many of the early pioneers left their native land overseas to escape famine, religious persecution, wars and service in the military.

A large percentage of the families in Lake County in the 1830's and 1840's saw their sons off to war in the 1860's, serving their new country on the side of the North. Within two weeks after the fall of Ft. Sumter, on Apr. 14, 1861, after a call of the President for 75,000 men to volunteer, there was an immediate response.

An organization of a Company was begun at Crown Point, with other recruiting stations at Lowell, at Hobart, and a few other places in Lake County. John Wheeler was captain, Charles Bell, first lieutenant, and Michael Sheehan second lieutenant. This Company left Lake County on June 24, 1861, was transferred to Lafayette where it became Company B, 20th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers and mustered into service on July 22, 1861, with William L. Brown as colonel.

The following is an unusual story of the Civil War written by an unknown veteran of the 20th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers:

It was a common thing to meet on the picket line and trade papers, coffee and tobacco, both sides enjoying it.

The 20th Ind. Vol. Infantry also were involved in many battles in the war between the States. They participated in the following engagements: Hatteras Bank, Newport News, the capture of Norfolk, Orchards (where they lost 144 men, killed, wounded or missing), Seven Days Fight, Manassas Plains, Chantilly, Fredericksburg (the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th days fight losing 152 men, killed, wounded, or missing), Manassass Gap, Locust Grove, Pine Run, Wilderness, Todd's Tavern, Po River, Spottsyvania, Tallopotanni, Cold Harbor, Deep Bottom, Strawberry Plains, Petersburg, (where many were lost), Preble's House, Hatcher's Run, and many more until the surrender of Gen. Lee's Army. Col. John Wheeler of Crown Point was killed at Gettsburg July 2, 1863.

By 1864, nearly 1,500 men had left Lake County to join the following Regiments: (Ind. Vol. Regiments) 9th, 12th, 20th, 72nd, 73rd, 87th, 99th, 128th, 142nd, 151st, and 155th, all Infantry Regiments. The 5th, 7th, and 12th were Cavalry Regiments. The 4th and 24th were Artillery. Many more men from Lake County enlisted or volunteered in regiments from Illinois. The history books report that the fighting men from Indiana served their country well.

Last updated on January 16, 2001.

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