Gold Presentation Cane From 96th Illinois Regiment to General W C Whitaker #217


Rare war time 1864 dated GOLD Presentation Cane from 96th Illinois Infantry Regiment to Brigadier General WALTER CHILES WHITAKER…A stunning example with the gold cane top mounted on an ebony wood stick…A great Christmas present from his troops!Gold cane top is deeply engraved: “Presented to Brig. Genl. W. C. WHITTAKER by the Enlisted Men of the 96th Regt. Ill Vol. Infy. Dec. 25, 1864″

The sides are engraved with Battle Honors of his commands: “Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Nashville; New Hope Church, Franklin; Lookout Mountain, Resaca; Chickamauga, Rocky Face Ridge.”

General Whitaker was a true combat leader who lead from the front in the Mexican War and the Civil War and was wounded several times…Numerous examples of his personal courage were mentioned throughout War Department and regimental records and his career was remarkable for his leadership and steadfast (and in some cases tipsy) stance on the field of battle…A quote from Asst. Adjutant Col. J. R. Boone recorded in Whitaker’s personnel records show what this man was made of: “in the battle of Chicamauga Ga. was wounded by a gun shot in the right side…the entrails seemed to be protruding, he refused to go to hospital or surrender his command and continued to suffer from said wound…few men would have had the fortitude to remain on duty after having been so severely wounded.” Biography “Colonel Whitaker cut down one of the cannoneers with a Bowie knife he had taken from a Texan he had captured.” BG Whitaker’s grave site

“Brig. Gen. Walter Chiles Whitaker (b. 1823, d. 1887). Though not very prominent himself, Whitaker twice led a part of forces that saved Union armies from annihilation. Born in Shelbyville, Kentucky he chose to become a lawyer before volunteering for the American-Mexican War in which he served as lieutenant of the 3rd Kentucky. After the war he entered politics, serving in the state legislature. One of many Unionists in the General Assembly he favoured to end Kentucky’s neutrality and belonged to the group that proposed legislation to end it in September by banning only Confederate troops from the state. Whitaker established a training camp at Eminence and raised the 6th Kentucky of which he became colonel in December. The regiment of Gen. William B. Hazen’s brigade and followed him under Whitaker at Shiloh and Stones River, where it took part in the fighting at the “Round Forrest” on December 31, 1862 – the army being there saved from destruction. During the Tullahoma Campaign in June 1863 Whitaker served ably during the feint crossing of the Tennessee River which enabled the main body of the army to cross elsewhere drive the Confederates from Tennessee. Whitaker was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in July and given a brigade in the Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland (his former regiment would be later led by his brother Richard for a few months). At Chickamauga in September Whitaker’s brigade was part of the force defending “Horseshoe Ridge” under Gen. George Thomas, helping again to save the army from destruction. Whitaker fought in the ensuing battles for Chattanooga as well as the Atlanta Campaign leading the 2nd brigade, 1st division, IV corps. When Gen. William T. Sherman decided to start his “March to the Sea” Whitaker’s brigade became part of the force under Thomas left behind to defend Tennessee. At the end of November the Union escaped disaster at Spring Hill and fought off the Confederates at Franklin. In the Battle of Nashville on December Whitaker participated in the destruction of the Southern Army of Tennessee under Gen. John B. Hood. For his service he was breveted to major general of volunteers in 1865. After the war he resumed his law practise. Hard drinking was probably the reason why he spent some years in a mental institution. However he recovered enough to be able to work again as a lawyer until his death on July 9, 1887. He was buried in his hometown’s Grove Hill Cemetery. “.

(Gold Presentation Cane From 96th Illinois Regiment to General Walter Chiles Whitaker)

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