12th ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: Summer, 1861 Cairo, IL
Mustered In: 8/1/61 Cairo, IL
Mustered Out: 7/19/65 Louisville, KY
Discharged: Camp Butler, IL
61st UNITED STATES VOLUNTEER COLORED TROOPS
Organized: Summer, 1863 LaGrange, TN
Mustered In: 8/3/63 Lagrange, TN
Mustered Out: 12/30/66 Alabama
REGIMENTAL HISTORY: (12th)
The 12th was a three year western theater infantry regiment. Organized in Cairo, IL during the summer of 1861, it remained in-state until 9/5/61 when it moved to and helped occupy Paducah, KY. The bulk of the unit remained there until February, 1862 when the regiment joined in Union Gen. Grant's expedition against forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. In addition to suffering terribly from the weather, during the battle for that last fort the 12th lost 19 killed, 58 wounded and 10 missing.
On April 6th and 7th, 1862 the regiment participated in the battle of Shiloh/Pittsburgh Landing, TN. There it lost 109 killed/wounded and 10 missing before moving on to the siege of Corinth, MS. During September it marched to Iuka, but was not engaged during the battle for that place. Returning to Corinth, the October (3rd – 4th) battle there cost the 12th 17 killed, 80 wounded and 15 missing.
During 1863 the 12th remained in Tennessee. This period was a relatively quiet one for the regiment.
January, 1864 saw the members of the 12th reenlist as veterans. Thirty day furloughs followed.
Returning to the field the 12th joined Union Gen. Sherman's movement to capture Atlanta, GA. This campaign included numerous skirmishes and battles with the enemy. After the fall of Atlanta in August, the unit concluded the year by taking part in the "march to the sea.
1865 found the 12th marching northward through the Carolinas. It remained in North Carolina until the surrender of Rebel troops under Johnston in late April.
Moving to Washington, D.C., the 12th participated in the Grand Review (5/24) after which it travelled to Louisville, KY. There, in July, it was mustered out of Federal service and into history.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 5; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 3; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 142*; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 109.
* The 12th was one of a relatively few Union units that lost more men in combat than it did to other causes.
REGIMENTAL HISTORY: (61st)
The 61st USCT infantry regiment was a western theater unit. It was organized from the 2nd West Tennessee Infantry (African Descent).
The regiment performed post and garrison duties at Memphis, TN until July, 1864. After that it moved into Mississippi then back to Memphis, TN where, on AUGUST 21, it repulsed Confederate forces commanded by Nathan Bedford Forrest. Other actions then followed in Tennessee.
Early, 1865 found the 61st in Louisiana. It then moved on to Florida. The 61st then returned to Louisiana where it served until mustered out of Federal service at the end of December, 1866.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 1; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.:2; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 37; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.:316 .
Residence: Maine Cook Co., IL Age: 19.0 yrs. (est.)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/1/61 Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 8/1/61
Discharged For Promotion: 9/30/63
Highest Rank: 1st Sgt.
Rank At Discharge: 1st Sgt.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: 21.0 yrs. (est.)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/1/63 Rank: Sgt.
Mustered In: 8/1/63
Discharged For Wounds: 2/1/65 (EST.)
Highest Rank: Sgt.
Rank At Discharge: Sgt.
NOTE: The birth - to - death biographical profile of Benjamin Thacker was created in November, 2020 during the Covid-19 medical pandemic. It contains less depth of detail than many other biographies within this website because military service, pension and other veteran-related files housed in Washington, D.C.'s National Archives were not available. At a later time those documents will be obtained and the data contained therein added to the narrative which follows.
Benjamin Franklin Thacker was born sometime between 1841 and 1845. U.S. census tallies and his death record contain all of those birth years. Herein we are opting for 1842 with the month being August. At the time of this writing, no specific birth date has been located within the scant few available documents pertaining to this Civil War soldier. His place of birth was the community of Maine located in Illinois' Cook County.
Parents to Benjamin were Stephen (b. 1801 NJ – d. 1848 Cook Co., IL ) and Esther/Ester (nee McKinney b. 1803 or '05 NJ - d. 1878 loc. unk.). Likely his family was a farming family as that was the occupation listed as Esther/Ester's occupation in the 1850 census for Illinois.
As best as can be determined, Stephen and Esther/Ester produced seven children. Of the seven, Benjamin appears to have been next to the youngest.
Stephen Thacker's children older than Benjamin were: John Thacker (b. 1829 OH), Bulah Thacker (b. 1831 OH), Elsie A. Thacker (b. 18734 OH), William Harrison Thacker (b. 7/15/36 Goshen Clermont Co., OH*) and George Washington Thacker (b. 1/1/40 Goshen Clermont Co., OH **). Younger than Benjamin was James Madison Thacker (b. 3/28/45 Des Plaines Cook Co., IL***).
As noted by the birth places of Benjamin's older brothers and sisters, at some point in time between 1840 and Benjamin's birth Stephen moved his family from Ohio to Illinois. In the later state they settled in Cook County.
In 1860 Benjamin was censused in his widowed mother's Maine Cook County, IL home. Also in the domicile were Benjamin's older brother, George, and his younger brother, James.
1861 saw civil strife sweep across America. On 8/1/61 Benjamin enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry. His regiment was the 12th Illinois. Economic times were tough - even for farmers - in 1861, so perhaps Private Thacker's enlistment was spurred by a desire to assist his widowed farm mother with funds from the enlistment "bonuses" and the monthly salary he would receive by becoming a soldier in blue...................
From enlistment information obtained at the time he joined the 12thInfantry we gain an insight into farmer Thacker the physical man. He was five feet eight inches in height, had dark hair, a dark complexion and blue eyes.
Based on available information it appears after enlisting at the rank of Private Benjamin rose in the 12th to the rank of first sergeant. He was then "discharged for promotion."
Departing the 12th Benjamin joined the 61st United States Colored Troops infantry regiment. Without accessing his military service records it appears the unit change did not bring with it a promotion as while with the 61st Sergeant Thacker remained Sergeant Thacker.
The regimental change, however, did bring with it a serious wounding. On 8/21/64 while the 61st aided in the repulse of Confederate forces commanded by Nathan Bedford Forrest near Memphis, TN Sergeant Thacker received a wound to his right leg with resulted in that limb being amputated above the knee. The War was over for Sergeant Thacker.
Benjamin's return to civilian society contains unknowns. As with many ACW veterans, where he settled after leaving the army is not documented. Further, no sighting has been found for him in the 1870 U.S. Census.
By 1880 Benjamin was farming in Madison Fairfield County, OH. He also had a wife and children.
Benjamin's bride was Martha S. Gatton or Gatten. She had been born in Ohio during November, 1855.
Where the couple had met and when they had married are more unknowns. Guesstimating, however, on the basis of the birth year of Benjamin and Martha's first child (1877), they likely married circa 1875.
It appears Benjamin and Martha parented five children. Those children were: James Hiram Thacker (b. 1877 OH), Charles E. Thacker (b. 1879 OH), Milow Thacker (b. ca. 1884), Rachel Thacker (b. 7/4/84 OH) and Alma Thacker (b. 6/5/89 OH).
After 1880 Benjamin and Martha disappear for another twenty years. In 1900 Benjamin surfaces as a single (divorced) attorney residing in Beardstown Cass County, IL. As for Martha, she re-appears married to a Mr. William Baggs and living in Darby Pickaway County, OH.
In 1910 Benjamin was still practicing law in Beadstown, IL. A decade later, however, in 1920, he was retired and living in Everett, Snohomish County, WA. When he had arrived in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northeast is not known.
Likely what had drawn Benjamin here was the fact that his brother, William, was residing in the community of Arlington north of Everett. Benjamin was sharing his Everett home with Beulah Thacker, one of his brother, William's, children.
Benjamin Franklin Thacker died on 8/8/26 in the Everett Snohomish County, WA home which he had continued to share with his unmarried niece, Beulah. Burial, however, was not in Everett, but in Arlington's Harwood Cemetery where his brother, William/is was also buried.
The civilian headstone marking Benjamin's final resting place is accented by the word "Captain". At present, without documentation indicating his having attained the rank of captaincy, this moniker appears likely to have been an honorary nickname granted him by friends and family rather than a rank which he held during his days of Civil War soldiering.
* During the American Civil War William Harrison Thacker (b. 7/15/36 Goshen Clermont Co. OH - d. 4/1/1912 Arlington Snohomish Co., WA) served in the 71st Illinois Infantry Co. “G”. He survived the conflict and was/is buried in the Harwood Cemetery located in Arlington Snohomish County, WA.
** During the American Civil War George Washington Thacker (b. 1/1/40 Goshen Clermont Co., OH – d. 4/26/32 Glenwood Pope Co., MN) served in the 2nd Minnesota Cavalry Co. “K.” He survived the conflict and was/is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery Pope Co., MN.
***During the American Civil War James Madison Thacker (b. 3/28/1845 Des Plaines, IL - d. 9/26/1939 Melrose Park. Cook Co., IL) served in the 106th Illinois Infantry Co. “H”. He survived the conflict and was/ is buried in the Oakridge Cemetery located in Proviso Township Cook Co. IL.
Buried at Harwood Cemetery Arlington
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