the breaking out of the Rebellion Nebraska contained a population of less than
30,000; but not with standing this fact the State sent 3,307 men to fight for
the preservation of the Union.
soldiers comprised at least one-third of the able bodied men of the State,
consequently Nebraska furnished more troops in proportion to her population
than many of the loyal States of the North.
news of the fall of Fort Sumter aroused all the patriotism of the people of the
young States, and the work of raising troops to quell the Rebellion commenced
on the very day the news was received.
the proclamation of President Lincoln calling for three years' volunteers, the
Secretary of War assigned one regiment to Nebraska.
Alvin Saunders immediately called for volunteers to fill the Nebraska
contingent, and the patriotic citizens readily responded.
first company was formed June 3, 1861, and the regiment was filled by the
organization of the tenth company July 22, less than fifty days being required.
companies were as follows:
furnished two companies:
The Omaha Guards
P. Walter and H. Koenig, Lieutenants
County furnished a company of dragoons:
G. Dooms. Captain
Chivington and G. D. Conley, Lieutenants
furnished a company under the command of:
Captain R. R. Livingston
A. F. McKinney and S. F. Sharp, Lieutenants.
County furnished a company commanded by:
Captain Stephen Decatur
Nebraska City and Brownville each raised companies, and two more were furnished
by Omaha and Douglas County.
regiment being full, Governor Saunders appointed the following officers:
P. Downs, Lieutenant-Colonel
H. McCord, Major
July 30, the First Nebraska Infantry embarked on a Missouri River steamer for
St. Joseph, Mo., where the men were to receive their equipments.
being fully equipped the regiment was taken to St Louis and employed in service
within the boundaries of the State of Missouri until February, 1862.
encountered many bodies of rebels belonging to Price's command and several hot
skirmishes ensued. On February 2, 1862, the regiment started for Tennessee
where it was to participate in the first campaign in which the Union armies
won a decided advantage.
regiment arrived at Fort Henry, Tennessee, on February 11, but was immediately sent
to Fort Donelson, where it participated in the struggle which resulted in the
capture of that rebel stronghold.
First Nebraska then remained comparatively inactive until April 6, when it
marched for Pittsburg Landing, reaching there too late, however, to
participate in the first day's fighting.
the morning of the 7th they were placed in General Lew Wallace's division, Colonel
John M. Thayer being in command of the brigade. The fighting commenced at daybreak, the First
Nebraska troops being placed so as to receive the brunt of the enemy's
charges. The fighting, as is well known,
was furious, but the enemy were repulsed, the First Nebraska having the honor
of leading the final charge that drove the rebels from the field.
his official report General Thayer spoke of the First Nebraska troops as follows:
action now became general. I again gave the order to 'forward,' and the line
advanced as regularly, and with a front as unbroken, as upon a parade ground,
the First Nebraska, Lieutenant.-Colonel McCord, moving up directly in front of the
And again: "Nobly did the First Nebraska sustain
its reputation, well earned on the field of Donelson. Its progress was onward
during the whole day, in face of a galling fire of the enemy, moving on without
flinching, at one time being an hour and a half in front of their battery,
receiving and returning its fire; its conduct was most excellent"
Pittsburg Landing the First Nebraska sustained a loss of between twenty and
Corinth and other battles of the summer of 1862, the regiment did its full
October, 1862, till the following August, the regiment was stationed at various
points in Missouri and Arkansas, doing camp and picket duty.
had several skirmished with the enemy, notably at Cape Giradeau and Chalk
Bluffs, on both occasions the enemy being repulsed with great loss.
28, 1863, they were removed to St. Louis.
November their regiment having been mounted were thereafter known as the First
this time until June 13. 1864, the First Nebraska was stationed at different
points in Arkansas, engaged in scouting and doing picket duty.
skirmished with the enemy at the towns of Jacksonport and Sycamore, killing a
few of the enemy and capturing a great many prisoners.
regiment returned to Omaha in June,1864, and
were furloughed until the following August, when they were detailed for duty
against the Indians, and were ordered to Fort Kearney.
the regiment remained until they were mustered out of service July 1, 1866. During this time they were engaged in
scouting and escort duty, protecting telegraph lines and guarding the lives and
property of the settlers from the depredations of the Indians. It was a constant warfare between the Indians
and the soldiers. Raid succeeded raid,
and the punishment which the Indians received did not seem to deter them, but
they were ready for new depredations and outrages whenever the opportunity
regiment served faithfully in defense of the Union. Their bravery is attested
on the fields of Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, Corinth,
Sycamore, Chalk Bluffs, Red Banks, Cape
Girardeau. Jacksonport and others.
after they were no longer needed in crushing the Rebellion, they rushed to the
protection of frontiers from the ravages of hostile Indians.
the summer of 1862, while the First regiment was in the South fighting the
Confederates, it became necessary to devise some means by which home interests
could be protected. The Indians were
plundering, killing and capturing the settlers, and an organized effort to
repel their attacks must be made.
result was the organization of the Second Nebraska Cavalry, as a nine months
regiment. R. W. Furnas, Brownville, was
April, 1863, the Second Nebraska were ordered to report for duty at Sioux City, preparatory to joining the expedition up the Missouri under General
Sully. Under Sully the Nebraska troops
took part in various skirmishes with the Sioux Indians.
September 3, 200 miles above Fort Pierre, the great battle of Whitestone Hills
was fought, with the Brule, Yankton and Blackfeet Sioux, numbering nearly 2.000
this fight the Indians were completely "defeated, abandoning all their
camp property and animals, losing 150 men, 300 wounded and 200 prisoners.
Nebraska troops lost 7 men killed. 14 wounded and 10 missing.
In the latter part of September, 1863, the
regiment returned to Omaha and were mustered out of service, having served most
acceptably against the Indians
August, 1861, a call was issued for two companies of cavalry to join the First
regiment. Under this call two companies
were formed under Captains Patrick and Croft.
These companies, however, did not
join the First regiment as first intended, but with two other companies, one
from Nebraska City, the other from St Louis, were merged into the Fifth Iowa
Cavalry, under which name they went through the war. They were also known as
the “Curtis Horse."
four companies, designated the Nebraska Battalion, were lettered respectively
A, B, C and D, and composed the First battalion. These troops served their time
in the army of the Southwest, where they participated in some of the hardest
fought battles of the war.