The story of John A. Logan's famed 31st Regiment Illinois Volunteers, told by three veterans who enlisted in the Union Army in their teens and recounted their experiences in their fifties, follows the regiment from the battles of Belmont, Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, Kenesaw Mountain, and Atlanta through the March to the Sea and into North Carolina. Under the command of Colonel Logan, the 31st became a prime component in Grant's western campaigns, fighting for the first time at Belmont, Missouri. In February of 1862, the 31st foiled Confederate general Gideon J. Pillow's dramatic escape from the Union siege at Fort Donelson. Although this is often listed as one of the proudest moments for the 31st, casualties ran high (fifty-eight killed), with Logan so severely wounded that at first he was reported dead. Logan's valor at Fort Donelson won him promotion to brigadier general. This regimental history is illustrated by twenty-nine contemporary black-and-white photographs.
W. S. Morris enlisted at age nineteen on the day Logan delivered his dramatic address in the Marion, Illinois, town square. L. D. Hartwell enlisted at seventeen, one of six Williamson County brothers who served in the Union Army. J. B.Kuykendall enlisted at nineteen from Vienna, Illinois.