A Nasty Accident
By June 1865, the 112th Illinois Infantry was a battle-toughened veteran regiment. The starry-eyed recruits who had joined the regiment at its inception were now combat-experienced and victorious, as the war was now over and it was time to head home. The regiment had participated in the Carolinas Campaign under William T. Sherman. The soldiers had boarded a train in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the long trip back to Chicago, where the men would receive their final pay and be mustered out of the army.
Instead of the hero’s welcome in the Windy City, one soldier would find himself in a Pennsylvania hospital.
On June 23, the troop train arrived in City Point, Virginia, where the men embarked on a steamship for the James River / Chesapeake Bay voyage to Baltimore. There, they took another train northward to Harrisburg and then to Pittsburgh as they worked their way back home. Many rode in the cars; others had to ride on the rooftops. Cheering citizens lined the tracks at many places to welcome the boys in blue as they passed through.
From their regimental history…
“Near York, Pa., as Sergeant William P. Ballantine, of Co. F, was standing on a car, while the train was passing under a low bridge, his head struck the bridge and he was severely injured – the only accident that occurred on the ride home. Sgt. Ballantine was left in a Harrisburg hospital, but subsequently recovered and returned home.”