Charles Otto Henthorn papers  1862-1864
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Biography

Henthorn, Charles Otto

Rank : Private

Regiment : 77th Illinois Infantry Regiment. Co. D (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 3-1865 June 30

Charles Henthorn, a native of Lacon, Ill., enlisted in Company D of the 77th Illinois Infantry in August, 1862. This unit had recently been organized by David McKinney (see Schoff Soldiers' Letters 34: 1) and David Perkins Grier and was mustered in on 3 September 1862. The 77th Illinois was sent to Richmond, Kentucky, arriving shortly after the Battle of Richmond. The Regiment quickly earned the wrath of local citizens by ordering slaves they encountered to 'fall in.' "To such an extent was this slave propensity indulged, that Gen. Burbridge, a Kentuckian, was reported to have said that the Seventy-Seventh was an abolition regiment, and would steal all the niggers in Kentucky if they had a chance to do so." As the regiment marched south to join Grant's main army, slaves tagged along under the soldiers' protection. Local Kentuckians and Tennesseeans, however, were known to steal these camp followers and sell them back into slavery. Under this threat, several free black laborers employed by the Regiment were sent back to the north for their own protection. After the Vicksburg Campaign and the capture of Jackson, Mississippi, the 77th Illinois participated in Nathaniel Banks' operations in Texas.

Like many soldiers in his regiment, Henthorn was striken with illness during the Vicksburg Campaign, and spent seven weeks in the Van Buren Hospital at Milliken's Bend, La., before being sent to St. Louis for convalescence. This series of correspondence essentially ends when Henthorn leaves the south, however the regimental history for the 77th Illinois records Henthorn as mustering out only at the end of the war.