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The Lead Mine Men

The Lead Mine Men

The Enduring 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

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Thomas B. Mack


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
28 illustrations

Engaging the Civil War


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About the Book

The regiment that never ran

To destroy Confederate infrastructure, avenge the horrors of slavery, and shorten the war, the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry imposed the pillaging of hard-war philosophy upon Confederate lands. This comprehensive and engaging narrative explores the Civil War ordeals and triumphs of the “Lead Mine men” who hailed from eleven counties in northern Illinois. Thomas B. Mack uncovers the history on this unit of resilient midwesterners and how they brought hard-war to the Confederacy in 1862, earlier than other historians have previously suggested. 

During their service the regiment compiled an exceptional record. The 45th fought under General Ulysses S. Grant in the war’s western theater, earning honors at Vicksburg and in Tennessee. The men later reenlisted as veterans and served in General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta, Savannah, and Carolina campaigns. Mack considers the soldiers’ community, discipline, and faith in Providence during their service in the Union Army of the Tennessee and how, despite the unit’s high casualties, they upheld the lowest rate of desertion due to their fervent patriotism.

Throughout The Lead Mine Men, Mack’s focus remains on the soldiers—their extensive training in Galena and Chicago and their time in camp and in combat. He follows their experiences from recruitment t to their celebratory march in the 1865 Grand Review to their postwar lives in which many struggled to adjust, receive their government pensions, and protect the unit’s legacy. In this book, Mack broadens our understanding of the Union soldiers who saved their republic and ended slavery within its borders. 


Thomas B. Mack taught for several years at Dallas College at El Centro. His research focus is the Civil War soldier, whether Union or Confederate, and he explores soldiers’ collective wartime and postwar experiences though writing modern regimental studies. 


"Mack has produced a comprehensive look at one of the hard-fighting and most celebrated regiments that served under Grant and Sherman in the Western Theater. He weaves a captivating and compelling story of these rugged soldiers—largely in their own words, from enlistment through four years of grueling war. He chronicles their experiences in battle, on the march, and camp life, and includes their transition back to civilian life at war’s end. In presenting these men in their patriotic fervor, faith, fears, and human frailties, he has produced an exemplary modern regimental study."—Terrence J. Winschel, author of Triumph & Defeat: The Vicksburg Campaign, Vols. 1-2

"Often lost in the scholarship of generals and battles are the lives of everyday soldiers. Thomas Mack takes what at first appears to be just another northern regiment, and with clear prose and keen insight reminds us of how very diverse Civil War units often were. Because the Illinois Forty-fifth hailed from Republican counties, its young farmers supported emancipation, reenlisted in large numbers, and demonstrated astonishing courage at bloody battles like Shiloh. Elegantly written and deeply researched."—Douglas R. Egerton, author of Thunder At the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America