by Diana Dretske

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Lt. Col. Isaac L. Clarke (1824-1863)

Isaac L. Clarke, was an associate principal and teacher at the abolitionist-leaning Waukegan Academy in Waukegan, Illinois from 1848-1850, and subsequently a lawyer. In 1862, he raised a company of men, and on the formation of the 96th Illinois was elected lieutenant colonel. Just before the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, Clarke spoke with Captain George Hicks of Company A, who quoted Clarke as stating: “I have no fear for myself. I shall go into this fight, and go through it, and come out of it all right.” Clarke led his men up Horseshoe Ridge and was shot through the chest in the first charge. He was taken from the field and appears to have died within a few hours.


Source: Partridge, Charles A. History of the Ninety-Sixth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Chicago: Historical Society of the Regiment, 1887; Hicks, George. Personal Recollections of Chickamauga. By Geo. Hicks, Captain Company A, Ninety-Sixth Illinois Volunteers. Extracts from an Address Delivered in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Chicago: Brown, Pettibone & Co., Printers, 1886.

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“The Funeral Lt. Col. Isaac L. Clarke,” Waukegan Weekly Gazette, October 10, 1863

The news of Lt. Col. Isaac L. Clarke’s death at the Battle of Chickamauga brought great sadness to his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. The Waukegan Weekly Gazette’s editor, James Y. Cory paid tribute to Clarke stating: “He was an ever watchful and kind friend to his men… amid the terrible storm of lead and iron at Chickamauga, he was as self-possessed and apparently unconscious of danger, as if he had been riding in the streets of Waukegan.”