From Pittsfield, Illinois travel east on Highway 106 to the town of Florence, Illinois. Just before crossing the Illinois River make a right onto South Florence Road. Ahead you will want to bear left onto River Road. Continue straight on River Road. It will appear like you are entering Cargill AG Horizons place of business but River Road continues south. The monument will be on your left along River Road. Please use caution River Road is very narrow and turn around points are limited. Also keep in mind that during early spring the Illinois River will flood covering the road and the monument.
99th Illinois Infantry Monument
History of the 99th Illinois Infantry Monument
In the summer of 1862 Pike County, was busy recruiting companies of men to serve in the blue ranks of the Union Army. On August 19, 1862 all the companies throughout the county meet in the county seat of Pittsfield, Illinois where they were organized into one regiment that would be known as the Pike County Regiment.
Officers were elected, Colonel, George Washington Kelly Bailey, Lieutenant Colonel, Lemuel Parke, Major Edwin A. Crandall. After elections the regiment marched east of town to a vacant lot where they formed a hollow square and were given the results which excited the men to loud cheers of approval. Colonel Bailey was then presented with a horse and sword. The regiment then received its first orders instructing them to be ready to march next morning at 8:00 am to Florence, Illinois which was located east of Pittsfield along the bank of the Illinois River.
After returning to town they marched through the streets before breaking ranks for the night. That night it rained heavily and was still raining at daybreak on August 20th. Even with the weather, the town of Pittsfield had doubled in size as friends and family members came to see the regiment off. Local farmers had come with their wagons to transport them to Florence. Later, when the regiment arrived at Florence there was no steamboat waiting.
By August 21st the men had exhausted the food and other supplies available in Florence and arrangements were made to bring provisions from Pittsfield to feed the men in a grove of trees south of Florence. The next day Captain J.H. Rathbone of the 12th United States Infantry arrived to officially muster the Pike County Regiment into the Union Army.
On August 23rd the steamboat, Post Boy, arrived to take the men down river. Rathbone began to organize the men into companies and administer the oath. When Rathbone was done the Pike County Regiment was now the 99th Illinois Infantry. Many family members came down to the river to see their loved ones off. It was well after dark before the boat pushed away and started steaming down the river making the 99th the first regiment that left the state of Illinois under the call of troops of 1862. On the morning of August 24th, the Post Boy docked at St Louis where the regiment disembarked and marched to Benton Barracks where they would drill eight hours a day and be outfitted with their rifles and accoutrements.
In August of 1933 the Dick Gilmer Women’s Relief Corps #294 of Pittsfield, Illinois, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic honored the 99th Illinois Infantry and the spot where they were mustered in and embarked for service. The regiment was sixty-two days under fire and lost a total of 187 men.