Newly elected Illinois Governor Henry Horner (the first Jewish Governor of Illinois) barely made it home to Chicago from Springfield at the start of the VACW. There he called out the Illinois National Guard, but only those units based in and around Chicago. The other Guard units were eventually called out by Supreme Commander General MacArthur. With two notable exceptions, the Guard units didn't completely show up. Many members decided they didn't want anything to do with the upcoming Civil War, for reasons ranging from not wanting to shoot their fellow Guardsmen to their unit being under control of someone they opposed. In most cases the Guard who didn't show up were allowed to stay home (most leaders didn't want soldiers who weren't interested in fighting). As time passed, many of the Guard who sat out the early battles found themselves convinced to join up or in some cases were in drafted.
Governor Horner called out the following units.
33rd Division Headquarters (which since every National Guard Division was suppose to have a company of tanks, would have included a number of M1917 Tanks (30% strength)
131st Illinois National Guard Infantry Regiment (60% strength)
132nd Illinois National Guard Infantry Regiment (50% strength)
The 2nd Squadron of the 106th Cavalry, including the famous Chicago Black Horse Squadron (Troops E and F- 40% strength).
The 122nd and 124th Field Artillery (75mm guns). They were combined together to give one full strength unit and an extra battery.
Company A of the 108th Engineers (70% strength)
The 8th Illinois National Guard (it must have had a proper number but I couldn't find one in my resources). This was one of the few all negro National Guard units in the country and had served with the French Army in WWI. They were at 110% strength, as former members and combat veterans turned out in droves, after refugees reported what the Black Legion had done in Detroit (while the Jews had been beaten and driven out, at least 100 Negros had been lynched in Detroit, their bodies left hanging for over a week). They are far more motivated than the average National Guard unit, and with so many combat veterans they are one of the best in the region (though white people, even those on their side, are loath to admit that).
108th Observation Squadron (equipped with PT-1 airplanes- 70% strength).
202d Coast Artillery (while I cannot prove it I believe they were an AA unit). 60% strength until the first bombing raid by Ford's Air Force, then 95% strength.
The 131st, the 132nd, the 106th Cavalry Squadron and the Field Artillery (except for the extra battery that was left to protect Chicago from an attack from the east) moved toward Rock Island in order to seize the Arsenal there. On the way this force picked up scattered soldiers and two full companies from the 129th National Guard Infantry Regiment. Other units of the 129th that sought to stay out of the conflict were left to protect their home towns.
When this force (now known as the Western Chicago Army-WCA) reached Rock Island (which took the better part of two weeks) they found themselves up against some daunting defenses. Besides facing a 155mm battery, two 75mm batteries, and eight very assorted tanks (various prototypes that had been built at the Arsenal during the 20's) they found that the Arsenal soldiers had dug a series of entrenchments containing more machineguns per yard than any place on the Western Front in WWI every had. The soldiers at the Arsenal had drug out and emplaced every automatic weapon they could find. There were Lewises, BARS, Brownings (.30 and .50 caliber), old Colt "Potato Digger" machineguns, pre-war Maxims chambered for .30-06, Benet-Mercie light machineguns, and some of the WCA soldiers even claimed they were fired upon by a Gatling. The first assault on this fortified line was thrown back with such heavy losses that WCA was forced to dig in, and form their own lines of trenches. This ended up being one of the few true cases of trench warfare in the whole of VACW. As time passed the Regular Army managed to feed a few more troops in from the west, while the Western Chicago Army was joined by Wisconsin Guard units as well as most of the tanks that had been initially left behind in Chicago.
I don't plan on doing this battle. It is too large for 28mm (except maybe as the occasional trench raid) and trench warfare doesn't appeal to me.
In addition to the one battery of 75mm Field Guns, the eastern approaches were defended by the Illinois 8th, and various independent armies. The units formed by the Unions (more on those in a later blog) were placed on the eastern approaches and intentionally kept away from the white National Guard Units (too much bad blood between them from the Guard having been used to bust up strikes in the teens and twenties). Since no one had ever used the Black Guard to bust up strikes, they were not seen as the enemy by the Union units.
The downstate units formed up (130th Infantry (50% strength) and 123rd Field Artillery (40% strength)) but mainly stayed in company or battery sized units to deal with local problems. They found themselves battling local coal miner unions, which was made harder by the miners having successfully captured and looted the Mt. Vernon Armory. In the middle of the state the Union forces (who faced nothing more dangerous than the 130th Infantry Headquarter unit) took over Decatur and waged a sporadic battle with the various forces holding the state capital Springfield.