The Peoria Years


With his brother Ebon Clark Ingersoll, Robert set up a law practice in the growing town of Peoria, Illinois. The law practice prospered. Both brothers became active in local politics.

In 1861 Robert Ingersoll raised the 11th Illinois Cavalry Regiment and was awarded the rank of Colonel. Ingersoll's regiment fought with distinction in the Battle of Shiloh. Soon after, Ingersoll was captured. As was sometimes done with officers early in the war, Ingersoll was paroled - allowed to go free on the condition that he did not fight again.

Ingersoll built a reputation for oratory during and after the war. In 1867 he was appointed the first attorney General of Illinois. It was the first -- and last -- public office Ingersoll would ever hold.

In 1868 he was considered for the state's Republican gubernatorial nomination, but passed over when he would not agree to make fewer speeches on controversial subjects, from women's rights to religion.

Ingerseoll's speechmaking played a vital role in the successful Congressional campaign of his brother Ebon.