State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails




Nebraska’s Part In The Rebellion 







At 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.


These 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.


The 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.


Under the proclamation of President Lincoln calling for three years' volunteers, the Secretary of War assigned one regiment to Nebraska.


Governor Alvin Saunders immediately called for volunteers to fill the Nebraska contingent, and the patriotic citizens readily responded.


The 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.


The companies were as follows:


Omaha furnished two companies:


The Omaha Guards

Thomas Watson, Captain

John Horbach, Lieutenant


Union Rifle Company

William Baumer, Captain

 P. Walter and H. Koenig, Lieutenants


Cass County furnished a company of dragoons:


R. G. Dooms. Captain

Isaac Chivington and G. D. Conley, Lieutenants



Plattsmouth furnished a company under the command of:


 Captain R. R. Livingston

 A. F. McKinney and S. F. Sharp, Lieutenants.


Burt County furnished a company commanded by:

 Captain Stephen Decatur


Florence, Nebraska City and Brownville each raised companies, and two more were furnished by Omaha and Douglas County.


The regiment being full, Governor Saunders appointed the following officers:


John Thayer, Colonel

Henry P. Downs, Lieutenant-Colonel

William H. McCord, Major

Enos Lowe, Surgeon


On July 30, the First Nebraska Infantry embarked on a Missouri River steamer for St. Joseph, Mo., where the men were to receive their equipments.


After 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.


They 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.


The 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.


The 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.


On 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.   


In his official report General Thayer spoke of the First Nebraska troops as follows:


"The 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 enemy's battery."


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"  


At Pittsburg Landing the First Nebraska sustained a loss of between twenty and thirty men.


At Corinth and other battles of the summer of 1862, the regiment did its full duty.


From October, 1862, till the following August, the regiment was stationed at various points in Missouri and Arkansas, doing camp and picket duty.


They had several skirmished with the enemy, notably at Cape Giradeau and Chalk Bluffs, on both occasions the enemy being repulsed with great loss.


August 28, 1863, they were removed to St. Louis.


In November their regiment having been mounted were thereafter known as the First Nebraska Cavalry.


From this time until June 13. 1864, the First Nebraska was stationed at different points in Arkansas, engaged in scouting and doing picket duty.


They skirmished with the enemy at the towns of Jacksonport and Sycamore, killing a few of the enemy and capturing a great many prisoners.


The 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.


Here 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 presented itself.


The 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.


And after they were no longer needed in crushing the Rebellion, they rushed to the protection of frontiers from the ravages of hostile Indians.


In 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.


The result was the organization of the Second Nebraska Cavalry, as a nine months regiment.  R. W. Furnas, Brownville, was their colonel. 


In 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.


On 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 strong.


In this fight the Indians were completely "defeated, abandoning all their camp property and animals, losing 150 men, 300 wounded and 200 prisoners.


The 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


In 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."   


These 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.




History of Nebraska