Historical / Reenacting

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State Militia Regimental carried by the 4th Illinois in the Mexician War
Historical Highlights of the Brigade


Governor Yates received communication from the War Department, S.P. Chase, on April 15, 1861 to send troops to defend the Union at or near Grand Cairo, IL. Ten companies were established, consisting of 6 infantry and 4 artillery.  The Illinois State Militia General, R. K. Swift, was appointed to command on April 19, 1861.  The command established Head-Quarters and by April 22, 1861 left Chicago by train and encamped at Fort Defiance near Cairo, IL.  The first action was to stop two steamers loaded with powder and small arms. “HeadQuarters Camp Cairo, April 24, 1861 Colonel B.M. Pretiss, Dear Sir; The steamers, C.E. Hillman and John D. Perry, are about to leave St. Louis with arms and munitions. Stop said boats and seize arms and munitions. Richard Yates, Commander-in-Chief.” On April 25, 1861, a small contingent consisting of the Chicago Light Artillery commanded by Captain James Smith and 25 infantrymen seized the transports and confiscated all contrabanded articles. It is also on this date that the Illinois State Assembly in special session commissions the raising of 6 more infantry regiments which are listed as the 7th thru the 12th with 750 men each. It was also decided the first force from Illinois shall be known as the 1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers.

The Honor Roll of those that responded to the "First Call."

Chicago Light Artillery

Co A Chicago Zouaves

Co B Chicago Zouaves

Captain Harding's Company

Turner Union Cadets

Lincoln Rifles

Drum Corps

General Swift with Staff


*Ottawa Light Artillery

*Lockport Light Artillery

*Plainfield Light Artillery

*Sandwich Company

 These units listed above (*) did not take the train on the first day but followed the next day.


The Independent Light Artillery joined the force by the 28th of April 1861.


(information compiled from the Adjutant Generals report 1863)

General Richard Kellogg Swift

  The Governor of Illinois appointed him to Brigadier General of the the 2nd Brigade, Sixth Division, of the Illinois Militia.  His force of an estimated 595 men from the militia units of Chicago and surround areas boarded two trains and took possession of Cairo.  The U.S. Army sent Colonel Prentice to relieve him. General Swift returned to Chicago and was instrumental in recruiting volunteers for the war in 

 (More on the General - see his page on this website.) 

 Civil War Reenacting

1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Inc.

Brigade Officer Corps  2011





Infantry on the field Minooka 2010



503 (c)(3) Organization

 170 (b)(3)(A)(vi)
effective December 16, 2009
1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Headquarters 
Organization Officers and Board 

President – Steve Fratt fratthaus@comcast.net

Vice President – Mike Millette mmillette@downers.us

Secretary/Treasurer - Trevor Steinbach drbucher@hotmail.com



Board Members

Jerry Kowalski

Gerry Morin

Barry Burgett

Bill Kummerow

Wayne Carle

Chris Mantus

Brian Mensching



Event Coordinators

Steve Fratt fratthaus@comcast.net

Jerry Kowalski paptom@msn.com


Member-at-Large David Dellinger citoyendavid@gmail.com



 1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Officer Corps
(Dollinger Farm 2009)

The organization was voted to become an entity at the Dollinger Farm event 2009. The membership was a consensus of the 1st Illinois Infantry Battalion, 8th IL Cavalry, Mississippi Field Band, Illinois Artillery Battys’ A, B, G, Mercantile, 1st MI US Engineers, US Signal Corps, 17th Field Hospital US Medical Corps and the US Head-Quarters Company.   An organizational board to oversee the administration of the group was elected at that time. The Board has proceeded to incorporate the 1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers in January 2010, as non-profit and registered with the Illinois State and Federal authorities for tax exempt status. 





The purpose of the1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Inc. is to create an avenue of accurate historical information and visual demonstrations for the general public and specific interest related to the War of the Rebellion “Civil War” circa 1861 to 1865.   These criteria are accomplished by creating an authentic standard for “Civil War” reenactors.


Living History interpretations, encampments and tactical scenarios at events in northern and central Illinois are where the general public may see first –hand the daily life difficulties of that period in our American History. The 1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Inc governs the over-all impression and safety conditions for the Federal Reenactors and provides a learning and safe environment for the spectators.


1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers is granted a Illinois State Employer Identification number, DLN and a Federal IRS 501 (c) (3) and is listed as a Public Charity under 170 (b) (3) (A) (vi).  Also the 1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2053, 2106 or 2522 of the code.  This was effective as of December 16, 2009.

Brigade on Parade 
Brigade Dress Parade (Dollinger Farm 2009) 
 9th Indiana
10th Illinois
13th Illinois
36th Illinois
45th Illinois
64th Illinois
104th Illinois
Infantry Battalion marching home

Taylors” Battery "B"

Chicago Light Artillery "A"

2nd Illinois Light Artillery "G"

Chicago Mercantile Battery


 Franklin Grove, IL  2009
8th Illinois
 Wauconda 2009
Mississippi Valley Fife & Drum Corps
 FEDERAL Head-Quarters Company
1st Brigade Illinois Volunteers Staff
Cantigny 2009
17th Corps Field Hospital
Cantigny 2009 
Signal Corps
 U.S. Signal Corps
1st Michigans Engineers & Mechanics
 Chief Bugler Samp
 Affiliated Members which muster with the Brigade
(at some events)
United States Colored Troops (USCT)  29th US Infantry Company B  
35th Illinois Infantry
54th Illinois Light Artillery
USS Carondelet (Naval Shore Party)
U.S. Sharpshooters
 Holding the ground ... Minooka 2010
 Dress Parade
"just before the battle mother.."
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