39th Illinois Infantry—Yates Phalanx
We have conquered, I know!
Up, up, on my feet, with my face to the foe!
Oh! There flies the flag, with its star spangles bright,
The promise of glory, the symbol of right! Well may they shout!
As an honor to the Governor of the State of Illinois, Richard Yates, who used his influence in Washington to bring this Regiment into service, the Thirty-ninth named themselves the Yates Phalanx. The Regiment was organized in Chicago with companies from Will County (Companies A and E), McLean County (Companies B, H and part of I), Livingston County (Company C), Ogle County (Company D), Cook County (part of Companies F and G), Marion County (part of Company F), DeWitt County (part of Company I) and La Salle County (Company K). The Regiment mustered in for three years service on October 11, 1861 and was sent to Camp Benton at St. Louis, Missouri.
The Thirty-ninth was one of the few Illinois Regiments to fight primarily in the Eastern theatre and October 29 was sent to Williamsport, Maryland for arms and equipment. In December it crossed the Potomac River to guard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A rebel force, commanded by Stonewall Jackson, attacked three companies of the Thirty-ninth on January 3, 1862 near Bath, Virginia forcing withdrawal of the Regiment back across to Potomac River to Maryland.
In January and February the Thirty-ninth was first deployed to guard Cumberland, Maryland but was sent on to guard the bridge at New Creek, Virginia; then to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. On March 23, 1862 they fought and defeated Stonewall Jackson at Winchester, Virginia. In May 1862 they marched to Fredericksburg, Maryland only to learn a day later of the defeat of General Banks in the Shenandoah Valley. The Regiment was ordered back to the Shenandoah Valley and after a few days’ rest marched on to Alexandria, Virginia where the men were loaded on transports and sailed to Harrison’s Landing.
They remained there until August when they fought the second battle of Malvern Hill. September 1, the Thirty-ninth was sent to Suffolk, Virginia and remained there until January 23, 1863 when they reported to General Foster at Newbern, South Carolina. It was here that a flag was presented to the Regiment from Governor Yates; the flag bore the portrait of the Governor. April 1, 1863 the Regiment took part in the expedition against Charleston, South Carolina and landed first on Folly Island, then was ordered to Morris Island and the assault on Fort Wagner.
The Regimental colors of the Thirty-ninth were the first to fly over the Fort. January 1, 1864 the Thirty-ninth left for home on veteran furlough. By March the strength of the Regiment had increased from 450 to 750 men. On May 5, 1864 they joined General Butler’s expedition up the James River; on reaching Bermuda Hundred they advanced into the interior and May 16 met the enemy at Drewry’s Bluff. The Union Army was driven back and the Regiment lost 200 men killed, wounded or missing. On May 20th the Regiment lost another 40 men in action at Wier Bottom Church.
In June the Thirty-ninth fought Longstreet’s Corps near the Petersburg and Richmond Pike and lost another 35 men. August 14th the Regiment crossed to the north side of the James and led a charge on the enemy’s works at Deep Run. During this action Henry Hardenbergh captured the colors of the 10th Alabama Infantry for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In this battle at Deep Run the Regiment lost an additional 104 men. In late August the Regiment was ordered to the trenches in front of Petersburg and fought at Chapin’s farm and enemy works near Darlington Road, seven miles south of Richmond.
That winter the Regiment remained in the works on the north side of the James River and had frequent skirmishes with the enemy. In March 1865 the Thirty-ninth received 100 recruits and later that month took part in the actions that resulted in the fall of Petersburg and Richmond. As part of that action the Regiment charged Fort Gregg and was the first regiment to plant its flag on the Fort. The Regiment witnessed the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court House and mustered out December 5, 1865.
|Battle of Winchester
Siege of Fort Wagner
Battle of Drewry's Bluff
Siege of Petersburg
 Clark, Charles M., MD, The History of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, published under the auspices of the Veteran association of the Regiment, Chicago, 1889. p. 215-Verse from a poem written by Rev. William E. Miller as comment on the fighting at Deep Run.
 Clark, Charles M., MD, The History of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, published under the auspices of the Veteran association of the Regiment, Chicago, 1889, pp210. “A brave young private, Henry M. Hardenburgh, of Company G, captured one of the latter after a hand-to-hand fight with the color-sergeant of the Tenth Alabama, whom he left dead on the field. General Birney, our corps commander, to whom he delivered the flag, complimented him very highly. Since coming here, while on duty in the trenches, he was mortally wounded by a piece of shell. A day or two after his death his appointment as First Lieutenant in the Thirty-Sixth United States Colored Troops was received at our headquarters from Major-General Butler for gallantry in the field, but it came too late. He is silent in the grave, all unmindful of earthly rewards.”
 Civil War Medal of Honor Winners From Illinois, Published by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois, July 1962. Abner P. Allen, of Company K was awarded the Medal of Honor for “Gallantry as color bearer in the assault on Fort Gregg, Petersburg, Virginia, April 2, 1865.
 Clark, ibid.
 Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, H.W.Rokker, State Printer and Binder, Springfield, Ill, 1886, Vol. 3, pp. 140-5.