Illustrated Atlas Map of Menard County, Illinois 1874|
Published by W.R. Brink & Co., of Illinois
CAPTAIN ROBERT HORNBACK
Among the names of those men in Menard County who have achieved an honorable distinction by gallant and meritorious services in defense of our national honor, during the Great Rebellion, we cannot fail to chronicle the name of Captain Robert Hornback.
Abraham Hornback, grandfather of Captain Hornback, and Robert Bracken, were both natives of Virginia, and served with honor during the Revolutionary war, under General Washington.
Soon after the war, both of these gentlemen removed to Kentucky, settling on the Licking River; and constituted a portion of that bold and fearless band of pioneers who wrested the "Dark and Bloody Ground" from the savages, and laid, broad and deep, the foundation upon which has since risen that magnificent State.
John Hornback, father of Captain Hornback, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, February 3, 1798; where he passed his youth and early manhood. In 1818, he was united in marriage to Miss Abigail Bracken, of Bath County, Kentucky, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (Mappin) Bracken; by whom he had eleven children, four sons and seven daughters. In 1825, he removed from Kentucky to Illinois, landing in Menard County, October 22 of that year. Menard then constituted a part of Sangamon County. Here he purchased about three hundred and twenty acres of land at Congress prices, which he improved and cultivated till his death, which occurred December 2, 1857. In 1832 he went to the Black Hawk war, in company with Abraham Lincoln, with whom he was intimately acquainted. He served at two different times: first as Lieutenant, and afterwards as Captain. Mrs. Hornback, his wife, survived him, and still resides at the old homestead, an active, intelligent lady at the age of seventy-five years,-being born October 27, 1799.
In Menard County, Illinois, November 14, 1828, was born, Robert Hornback, eldest son of Abraham and Abigail (Bracken) Hornback; and here he has continued to reside till the present time. Being the oldest son of a large family, he bore a large share of the hardships incident to pioneer life. The Captain remembers distinctly of plowing with an old-fashioned plow, with a wooden mould-board, at the age of five and a half years. Reared to farm-life, he has since, from choice, continued the honorable occupation of agriculture.
On the 29th of February, 1850, Captain Hornback was united in marriage to Miss Catharine Rogers, an amiable lady, daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Rogers, of Menard County, by whom he became the father of seven children, four of whom are yet living.
On the 10th of February, 1867, he sustained the deepest bereavement of his life, in the death of his wife, -the mother of his children, who, for seventeen years, endured with him the trials and hardships of life; and in November of the same year, to provide for his motherless children, he was married to his present wife, Miss Margaret J. McGilora, a very worthy lady, by whom he has four children. On the 4th day of August, 1862, during the recent struggle for national existence, Captain Hornback came forwards, and offered his services to the country as a private in Company "K," 114th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, under Colonel Judy. Rendezvousing at Camp Butler, Springfield, the regiment soon after proceeded to Memphis, Tennessee, and here and in the vicinity it remained till April 1, 1803, guarding railroads, scouting, and skirmishing, incident to soldier life. At the expiration of this time, the regiment received orders to join the forces under General Grant, at Grand Gulf, Mississippi. Proceeding from this point against the enemy, under General Johnston, the 114th and several other regiments came upon the Rebels, April 10, strongly posted at Raymond; and after several hours' sharp fighting, forced the enemy from their works. Pushing the retreating foe, on the 14th they again encountered the enemy in force in their fortifications, at Jackson, Mississippi; and after a severe pitched battle, in which the old 114th hotly engaged, the Rebels were dislodged from their works, and the town captured. Again, on the 16th instant, the regiment was closely engaged with the enemy at Champion Hills, in the rear of Vicksburg; after which it participated in the investment, siege, and surrender of that Gibraltar of America. For more than two months the regiment was under almost constant fire; exposed to all the hardships of war in a malarious climate; frequently lulled to sleep by the sullen boom of the enemy's guns, and aroused from early mourning slumber and dreams of home by the sharp screaming of solid shot, and loud, close explosions of shrapnel and shell; and thus did he bear the danger and perils of the siege, and thus shone in the joy and triumph of the victory. But even after this great victory there was no rest for the gallant 114th, which was in the entire siege of that place, and being among the first to enter the town when evacuated by the Rebels, July 16, 1863.
In October, 1863, for soldierly and meritorious conduct, Mr. Hornback was promoted from Orderly Sergeant to the rank of Captain; and while in Memphis received the appointment of City Provost Marshal; but preferring to share the dangers of active campaigning with his men, he declined the appointment.
During the spring of 1864, the 114th had numerous engagements with the Rebels, under General Forrest, with various successes.
On the 10th of June, 1864, the 114th was engaged in the severe and disastrous battle at Guntown, Mississippi, in which the regiment suffered severely. Captain Hornback himself was wounded, and lost nearly one-half of his men. About a month after, the regiment again encountered the same force, and obtained ample satisfaction, completely routing the enemy after a severe three days' battle. In the following August the regiment was transferred to the depot west of the Mississippi, and participated in the pursuit of Price in Arkansas and Missouri, engaging in a severe battle near Kansas City, Missouri, in October, 1864. After the expulsion of Price from Missouri, Captain Hornback's command joined General Thomas, at Nashville, and took part in the overwhelming defeat which he administered to Hood, December 14 and 15; after which the regiment proceeded to the siege of Mobile, going via New Orleans. The old 114th was engaged in the entire siege of Mobile, and shared in striking the last blow at armed treason, planting the old flag upon the last remaining stronghold of the enemy.
The war being ended, Captain Hornback and the few surviving veterans of the 114th returned home, to enjoy in peace and quiet the fruits of their dearly-bought victory.
Since the war, Captain Hornback has been extensively engaged in farming, and raising and shipping stock, and is now one of the most successful farmers of Menard County. All who know the Captain esteem him as a gentleman, honorable and upright in character and conduct, and active, industrious, and energetic in his business transactions. As a thorough-going, self-made man, he is one of the pillars of support of his native County.