Marching into Pennsylvania in 1863, the 8th Illinois Cavalry, was under the command of Brigadier General John Buford. They deployed west of Gettysburg on June 30, waiting for the Confederates to appear. On July 1, Lieutenant Marcellus E. Jones of Company E, borrowed a carbine and fired a shot at an unidentified soldier in the distance. It was the first shot fired at the three day long Battle of Gettysburg and Private George S. Sager of Schaumburg Township, also of Company E, was more than likely there that day.

Private Sager enlisted in the Union Army on the same day as Private John P. Sharp of Schaumburg Township who we met last week. Like Private Sharp, George Sager appeared in the 1860 Schaumburg Township census. Interestingly, Private Sager’s family was the last family listed in the census for Schaumburg Township.

In the census George Sager is listed as 17 years old, born in New York, and the oldest child of A.J. and Pemelia Sager. This put his birth year at 1843. His siblings were Sarah J. (13), Maria (11), Martha (9) and Frederick (2).

Because his father, A.J., is listed as a farmer, we should be able to find the Sharps on the 1861 Schaumburg Township plat map. This map of landowners has been indexed and is available on the library’s Local History Digital Archive. Unfortunately, though, there was no listing for a Sager family.

If we return to the census, it should be noted that census takers of the time traveled by horseback and would have gone farm to farm along a road, eventually covering the entire township. Consequently, it is possible to track neighbors who lived near each other even though no addresses are given in the census. Nearby listings can almost always be considered neighbors.

In tracking through the families that came before the Sagers in the census, listings for Glade, Bartels and Steger can be found. All of these families on the map can be found in the north central portion of the township, west of Roselle Road.  Since the Sagers are not on the map, we have to presume that they were not landowners and were possibly renting or leasing a farm in that area in the 1860s.

Like John Sharp, George Sager enlisted on September 5, 1861 as a private in the 8th Illinois US Cavalry. The only difference was that Private Sharp enlisted in Company D and Private Sager enlisted in Company E. Mr. Sager was 19 at the time, 5 foot 9 inches tall with brown hair, gray eyes and a light complexion. Both men were mustered in at St. Charles on September 18 of the same year and, most likely, took the same train to Washington D.C.

Private Sager served with the regiment until November 5, 1862 when it was noted in the History of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment that he was wounded at the Battle of Barber’s Crossroads in Virginia. He and the other wounded men were eventually moved to a vacant building that had been a hotel in Markham Station on the Manassas Gap Railroad that is delineated below in red.

Private Sager then vanished from the scene until January 1, 1864 when he reappeared in the Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls. He was mustered back in on that date as a veteran in Culpepper, VA where the regiment was located at the time. It is presumed he either spent the intervening years dealing with his injuries, possibly at home, or he soon recovered from his injuries and was able to serve out his original three-year stint. The latter is more likely. This would have put him at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. (The monument at the top of this blog post is on the Gettysburg battlefield and honors the soldiers of the 8th Illinois Cavalry. Note that it also mentions the first shot being fired by Lieutenant Jones.)

In the regimental history it states that on December 22 [1863] “The subject of re-enlisting, as veterans, had been agitated for some time. An order had been issued to the effect that if two-thirds of the regiment would re-enlist for three years, each veteran soldier should receive a bounty of three hundred dollars, a furlough of thirty days and free transportation to Illinois and return. That afternoon we called together as many as possible and discussed the matter from a pile of rails, as the men will doubtless recollect, and nearly enough to obtain the desired furlough, concluded to “veteranize.” It is unknown whether Private Sager was one of the veterans who were able to return to Illinois for the furlough or, like those who stayed, were incorporated into the command of an office of the Third Indiana Cavalry.

At the end of the war, Company B and E were sent to St. Louis. They reached East St. Louis on June 27, 1865, crossed the Mississippi River and went into the Benton Barracks, which was a Union Army encampment established during the Civil War on the present site of St. Louis Fairground Park. There he was part of the final muster-out on July 17.

On the following day, the men in the regiment started out for Chicago by train. It is unknown if Private Sager went with the regiment or not. He may very well have stayed in the St. Louis area or in southern Illinois, because it is noted in Illinois Marriages 1815-1935 on, that he married Louisa T. Compton in Clay County on August 26, 1867. Clay County is in the south central part of the state.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sager died at the young age of 35 on March 1, 1879, possibly as a result of lingering injuries. He is buried next to his wife at Keens Chapel Cemetery in Iola, Illinois in Clay County. Louisa died on May 3, 1910 at the age of 64. It is on George’s tombstone that we finally see his birth date of May 9, 1843. The marker details that he was a member of Co. E 8th Ill.

This earlier tombstone is also near the grave. Without knowing the details, we have to think that members of the family felt that, upon the death of Louisa, it would be fitting to provide the couple with a more dignified monument that honored them both and noted the service that George Sager gave to this country. We honor him here as well.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

Next week is the account of Christian Kublank who also served in the Union Army.

The map of the Manassas Gap Railroad is courtesy of Railroads of the Shenandoah Valley on

The gravestone photos are courtesy of



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