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History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 10 of 79)
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from Colton's History of the battle of Buena Yista. "As the enemy
on our left was moving in retreat along the head of the Plateau,
our artillery was advanced until within range, and opened a heavy
fire upon him, while Cols. Hardin, Bissell and McKee, with their
Illinois and Kentucky troops, dashed gallantly forward in hot pur-
suit. A powerful reserve of the Mexican army was then just
emerging from the ravine, where it had been organized, and
advanced on the plateau, opposite the head of the southernmost
gorge. Those who were giving way rallied quickly upon it; when
the whole force, thus increased to over 12,000 men, came forward
in a perfect blaze of fire. It was a single column, composed of the
best soldiers of the republic, having for its advanced battalions the



veteran regiments. The Kentucky and Illinois troops were soon
obliged to give ground before it and seek the shelter of the second
gorge. The enemy pressed on, arriving opposite the head of the
second gorge. One-half of the column suddenly enveloped it, while
the other half pressed on across the plateau, having for the moment
nothing to resist them but the three guns in their front. The por-
tion that was immediately opposed to the Kentucky and Illinois
troops, ran down along each side of the gorge, in which they had
sought shelter, and also circled around its head, leaving no possible
way of escape for them except by its mouth, which opened
upon the road. Its sides, which were steep, — at least an angle of
45 degrees, — were covered with loose pebbles and stones, and con-
verged to a point at the bottom. Down there were our poor fel-
lows, nearly three regiments of them (1st and 2d Illinois and 2d
Kentucky), with but little opportunity to load or fire a gun, being
hardly able to keep their feet. Above the whole edge of the
gorge, all the way around, was darkened by the serried masses of
the enemy, and was bristling with muskets directed on the crowd
beneath. It was no time to pause. Those who were not immedi-
ately shot down rushed on toward the road, their number growing
less and less as they went, Kentuckians and Illinoisans, officers and
men, all mixed up in confusion, and all pressing on over the loose
pebbles and rolling stones of those shelving, precipitous banks,
and having lines and lines of the enemy firing down from each
side and rear as they went. Just then the enemy's cavaliy, which
had gone to the left of the reserve, had come over the spur that
divides the mouth of the second gorge from that of the third, and
were now closing up the only door through which there was the
least shadow of a chance for their lives. Many of those ahead
endeavored to force their way out, but few succeeded. The lancers
were fully six to one, and their long weapons were already reeking
with blood. It was at this time that those who were still back in
that dreadful gorge heard, above the din of the musketry and the
shouts of the enemy around them, the roar of Washington's Bat-
tery. No music could have been more grateful to their ears. A
moment only, and the whole opening, where the lancers were busy,
rang with the repeated explosions of splierical-case shot. They
gave way. The gate, as it were, was clear, and out upon the road
a stream of our poor fellows issued. They ran panting down


toward the battery, and directly under the flght of iron then pas-
sing over their heads, into the retreatingj cavah-y. Hardin, McKee,
Clay, Willis, Zabriskie, Houghton — but why go on? It would be
a sad task indeed to name over all who fell during this twenty
minutes' slaughter. The whole gorge, from the plateau to its
mouth, was strewed with our dead. All dead! No wounded there
— not a man; for the infantry had rushed down the sides and com-
pleted the work with the bayonet."


The artillery on the plateau stubbornly maintained its position
The remnants of the 1st and 2d Illinois regiments, after issuing
from the fated gorge, were formed and again brought into action,
the former, after the fall of the noble Hardin, under Lieut. Col.
Weatherford, the latter under Bissell. The enemy brought forth
reinforcements and a brisk artillery duel was kept up; but gradually,
as the shades of night began to cover the earth, the rattle of mus-
ketry slackened, and when the pall of night was thrown over that
bloody field it ceased altogether. Each army, after the fierce and
long struggle, occupied much the same position as it did in the
morning. However, early on the following morning, the glad
tidings were heralded amidst our army that the enemy had retreated,
thus again crowning the American banners with victory.


Other bright names from Illinois that shine as stars in this
war are those of Shields, Baker, Harris and Coffee, which are
indissolubly connected with the glorious capture of Yera Cruz
and the not less famous storming of Cerro Gordo. In this latter
action, when, after the valiant Gen. Shields had been placed hoi's
de combat, the command of his force, consisting of three regiments,
devoled upon Col. Baker. This officer, with his men, stormed with
unheard-of prowess the last stronghold of the Mexicans, sweeping
everything before them. Such indeed were the intrepid valor and
daring courage exhibited by Illinois volunteers during the Mexican
war that their deeds should live in the memory of their countrymen
until those latest times when the very name of America shall have
been forgotten.



On the fourth day of March, 1861, after the most exciting and
momentous political campaign known in the history of this country,
Abraham Lincoln — America's martyred President — was inaugu-
rated Chief Magistrate of the United States. This fierce contest
was principally sectional, and as the announcement was flashed over
the telegraph wires that the Republican Presidential candidate had
been elected, it was hailed by the South as a justifiable pretext for
dissolving the Union. Said Jefferson Davis in a speech at Jackson,
Miss., prior to the election, "If an abolitionist be chosen Presi-
dent of the United States you will have presented to you the
question whether you will permit the government to pass into
the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies. Without
pausing for an answer, I will state my own position to be that
such a result would be a species of revolution by which the
purpose of the Government would be destroyed, and the obser-
vances of its mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event,
in such manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it
your duty to provide for your safety outside of the Union." Said
another Southern politician, when speaking on the same sub-
ject, ".We shall fire the Southern heart, instruct the Southern
mind, give courage to each, and at the proper moment, by one
organized, concerted action, we can precipitate the Cotton States
into a revolution." To disrupt the Union and form a government
which recognized the absolute supremacy of the white population
and the perpetual bondage of the black was what they deemed
freedom from the galling yoke of a Republican administration.


Hon. R. W. Miles, of Knox county, sat on the floor by the side
of Abraham Lincoln in the Library-room of the Capitol, in Spring-
field, at the secret caucus meeting, held in Janur.ry, 1859, when
Mr. Lincoln's name was first spoken of in caucus as candidate for
President. When a gentleman, in making a short speech, said,
" We are going to bring Abraham Lincoln out as a candidate for
President," Mr. Lincoln at once arose to his feet, and exclaimed,
"For God's sake, let me alone! I have suffered enough!" This
was soon after he had been defeated in tlie Legislature for United
States Senate by Stephen A. Douglas, and only those who are


intimate with that important and unparalleled contest can appre-
ciate the full force and meaning of these expressive words of the
martyred President. They were spontaneous, and prove beyond a
shadow of doubt that Abraham Lincoln did not seek the high posi-
tion of President. Nor did he use any trickery or chicanery to
obtain it. But his expressed wish was not to be complied with;
our beloved country needed a savior and a martyr, and Fate had
decreed that he should be the victim. After Mr. Lincoln was
elected President, Mr. Miles sent him an eagle's quill, with which
the chief magistrate wrote his first inaugural address. The letter
written by Mr. Miles to the President, and sent with the quill,
which was two feet in length, is such a jewel of eloquence and
prophecy that it should be given a place in history:

Peiisiper, December 21, 1860.
Hon. a. Lincoln :

Dear Sir : — Please accept the eagle quill I promised you, by the hand of our
Representative, A. A. Smith. The bird from whose wing the quill was taken, was
shot by John F. Dillon, in Persifer township, Knox Co., Ills., in Feb., 1857 Hav-
ing heard that James Buchanan was furnished with an eagle quill to write his
Inaugural with, and believing that in 18G0, a Republican would be elected to take
his place, I determined to save this quill and present it to the fortunate man, who-
ever he might be. Reports tell us that the bird which furnished Buchanan's quill
was a captured bird, — fit emblem of the man that used it ; but the bird from
which this quill was taken, yielded the quill only with his life,— fit emblem of the
man who is expected to use it, for true Republicans believe that you would not
think lite worth the keeping after the surrender of principle. Great difficulties
surround you ; traitors to their country have threatened your life ; and should
you be called upon to surrender it at the post of duty, your memory will live for-
ever in the heart of every freeman ; and that is a grander monument than can be
built of brick or marble.

"For if hearts may not our memories keep,
Oblivion liastc each vestige sweep,
And let our memories eud."

Yours Truly,

R. W. Miles.


At the time of President Lincoln's accession to power, several
members of the Union claimed they had withdrawn from it, and
styling themselves the " Confederate States of America," organ-
ized a separate government. The house was indeed divided
against itself, but it should not fall, nor should it long continue
divided, was the hearty, determined response of every loyal heart
in the nation. The accursed institution of human slavery was
the primary cause for this dissolution of the American Union.
Doubtless other agencies served to intensify the hostile feel-
ings which existed between the Northern and Southern portions


of oar country, but tlieir remote origin could be traced to this great
national evil. Had Lincoln's predecessor put forth a timely, ener-
getic effort, he might have prevented tlie bloody war our nation
was called to pass through. On the other hand every aid was given
the rebels; every advantage and all the power of the Government
was placed at their disposal, and when Illinois' honest son took the
reins of the Republic he found Buchanan had been a traitor to his
trust, and given over to the South all available means of war.


On the 12th day of April, 1861, the rebels, who for weeks had
been erecting their batteries upon the shore, after demanding of
Major Anderson a surrender, opened fire upon Fort Sumter. For
thirty-four hours an incessant cannonading was continued; the fort
was being seriously injured; provisions were almost gone, and Major
Anderson was compelled to haul down the stars and stripes. Tliat
dear old flag which had seldom been lowered to a foreign foe by
rebel hands was now trailed in the dust. The first blow of the
terrible conflict which summoned vast armies into the field, and
moistened the soil of a nation in fraternal blood and tears, had.
been struck. The gauntlet thus thrown down by the attack on
Sumter by the traitors of the South was accepted — not, however,
in the spirit with which insolence meets insolence — but with a firm,
determined spirit of patriotism and love of country. The duty of
the President was plain under the constitution and the laws, and
above and beyond all, the people from whom all political power is
derived, demanded the suppression of the Rebellion, and stood ready
to sustain the authority of their representative and executive
officers. Promptly did the new President issue a proclamation
calling for his countrymen to join with him to defend their homes
and their country, and vindicate her honor. This call was made
April 14, two days after Sumter was first fired upon, and was for
75,000 men. On the 15th, the same day he was notified. Gov.
Yates issued his proclamation convening the Legislature. lie also
ordered the organization of six regiments. Troops were in abund-
ance, and the call was no sooner made than filled. Patriotism
thrilled and vibrated and pulsated through every heart. The farm,
the workshop, the office, the pulpit, the bar, the bench, the college,
the school-house, — every calling ofi'ered its best men, their lives and
their fortunes, in defense of the Government's honor and unity.


Bitter words spoken in moments of political heat were forgotten
and forgiven, and joining hands in a common cause, they repeated
the oath of America's soldier-statesman : " By the Great Eternal^
the Union must and shall he preserved.^^ The honor, the very
life and glory of the nation was committed to the stern arbitrament
of the sword, and soon the tramp of armed men, the clash of
musketry and the heavy boom of artillery reverberated throughout
the continent; rivers of blood saddened by tears of mothers, wives,
sisters, daughters and sweethearts flowed from the lakes to the
gulf, but a nation was saved. The sacrifice was great, but the
Dnion was preserved.


Simultaneously with the call for troops by the President, enlist-
ments commenced in this State, and within ten days 10,000
volunteers offered service, and the sum of $1,000,000 was tendered
by patriotic citizens. Of the volunteers who offered their services,
only six regiments could be accepted under the quota of the State.
But the time soon came when there was a place and a musket for
every man. The six regiments raised were designated by numbers
commencing with seven, as a mark of respect for the six regiments
which had served in the Mexican war. Another call was antici-
pated, and the Legislature authorized ten additional regiments to
be organized. Over two hundred companies were immediately
raised from which were selected the required number. No sooner
was this done than the President made another call for troops, six
regiments were again our proportion, although by earnest solicita-
tion the remaining four were accepted. There were a large number
of men with a patriotic desire to enter the service who were denied
this privilege. Many of them wept, while others joined regiments
from other States. In May, June and July seventeen regiments
of infantry and live of cavalry were raised, and in the latter month,
when the President issued his first call for 500,000 volunteers,
Illinois tendered thirteen regiments of infantry and three of cavalry,
and so anxious were her sons to have the Hebellion crushed that
the number could have been increased by thousands. At the
close of 1S61 Illinois had sent to the field nearly 50,000 men, and
had 17,000 in camp awaiting marching orders, thus exceeding her
full quota by 15,000.



In July and August of 1862 the President called for 600,000
men — our quota of which was 52,296 — and gave until August 18 as
the limits in which the number might be raised by volunteering,
after which a draft would be ordered. The State had already fur-
nished 17,000 in excess of her quota, and it was first thought this
number would be deducted from the present requisition, but that
could not be done. But thirteen davs were granted to enlist this

ft/ CD

vast army, which had to come from tlie farmers and mechanics.
The former were in the midst of harvest, but, inspired by love of
country, over 50,000 of them left their harvests ungathered, their
tools and their benches, the plows in their furrows, turning their
backs on their homes, and before eleven days had expired the
demands of the Government were met and both quotas filled.

The war went on, and call followed call, until it began to look as
if there would not be men enough in all the Free States to crush
out and subdue the monstrous war traitors had inaugurated. But
to every call for either men or money there was a willing and ready
response. And it is a boast of the people that, had the supply of
men fallen short, there were women brave enough, daring enough,
patriotic enough, to have offered themselves as sacrifices on their
country's altar. On the 21st of December, 1861, the last call for
troops was made. It was for 300,000. In consequence of an im-
perfect enrollment of the men subject to military duty, it became
evident, ere this call was made, that Illinois was furnishing thous-
ands of men more than what her quota would have been, had it
been correct. So glaring had this disproportion become, that
under this call the quota of some districts exceeded the number of
able-bodied men in them.


Following this sketch we give a schedule of all the volunteer
troops organized from this State, from the commencement to the
close of the war. It is taken from the Adjutant General's report.
The number of the regiment, name of original Colonel, call under
which recruited, date of organization and muster into the United
States' service, place of muster, and aggregate strength of each
organization, from which we find that Illinois put into her one hun-
dred and eighty regiments 256,000 men, and into the United States


army, through other States, enough to swell the number to 290,000.
This far exceeds all the soldiers of the Federal Government in all
the war of the Revolution. Her total years of service were over
600,000. She enrolled men from eighteen to forty-five years of age,
when the law of Congress in ISG-i — the test time — only asked for
those from twenty to forty-five. Her enrollments were otberwise
excessive. Her people wanted to go, and did not take the pains to
correct the enrollment; thus the basis of fixing the quota was too
great, and the rjuota itself, at least in the trying time, was far above
any other State. The demand on some counties, as Monroe, for
example, took every able-bodied man in the county, and then did
not have enough to fill the quota. Moreover, Illinois sent 20,844
men for one hundred days, for whom no credit was asked. She
gave to the country 73,000 years of service above all calls. "With
one-thirteenth of the population of the loyal States, she sent regu-
larly one-tenth of all the soldiers, and in the perils of the closing
calls, when patriots were few and weary, she sent one-eighth of all
that were called for by her loved and honored son in the White
House. Of the brave boys Illinois sent to the front, there were
killed in action, 5,888; died of wounds, 3,032; of disease, 19,496;
in prison, 967; lost at sea, 205; aggregate, 29,588. As upon every
field and upon every page of the history of this war, Illinois bore
her part of the suffering in tlie prison-pens of the South. Mere
than 800 names make up the awful column of Illinois' brave sons
who died in the rebel prison of Andersonville, Ga. "Who can
measure or imagine the atrocities which would be laid before the
world were the panorama of sufterings and terrible trials of these
gallant men but half unfolded to view? But this can never be
done until new words of horror are invented, and new arts dis-
covered by which demoniacal fiendishness can be portrayed, and
the intensest anguish of the human soul in ten thousand forms be
painted. ^

No troops ever fought more heroically, stubbornly, and with bet-
ter effect, than did the boys from the "Prairie State." At Pea
Eidge, Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, luka, Corinth, Stone River,
Holly Springs, Jackson, Yicksburg, Chicamauga, Lookout Moun-
tain, Murfreesboro, Atlanta, Franklin, JSTashville, Chattanooga, and
on every other field where the clash of arms was heard, her sons
were foremost.



Illinois was almost destitute of firearms at the beffiniiino; of the
conflict, and none could be procured in the East. The traitorous
Flojd had turned over to the South 300,000 arms, leaving most
arsenals in the North einptj. Gov. Yates, however, received an
order on the St. Louis arsenal for 10,000 muskets, which he put in
the hands of Captain Stokes, of Chicago. Several unsuccessful
attemjjts were made by the Captain to pass through the large crowd
of rebels which had gathered around the arsenal, suspecting an
attempt to move the arms would be made. He at last succeeded
in gaining admission to the arsenal, but was informed by the com-
mander that the slightest attempt to move the arms would be dis-
covered and bring an infuriated mob upon the garrison. This fear
was well founded, for the following day Gov. Jackson ordered 2,000
armed men from Jefferson City down to capture the arsenal. Capt.
Stokes telegraphed to Alton for a steamer to descend the river, and
about midnight land opposite the arsenal, and proceeding to the
same place with 700 men of the 7th Illinois, commenced loading
the vessel. To divert attention from his real purpose, he had 500
guns placed upon a different boat. As designed, this movement
was discovered by the rabble, and the shouts and excitement upon
their seizure drew most of the crowd from the arsenal. Capt.
Stokes not only took all the guns his requisition called for, but
emptied the arsenal. When all was ready, and the signal given to
Btart, it was found that the immense weight had bound the bow of
the boat to a rock, but after a few moments' delay the boat fell awaj
from the shore and floated into deep water.

"Which way?" said Capt. Mitchell, of the steamer. "Straight
in the regular channel to Alton," replied Capt, Stokes. "What if
we are attacked?" said Capt. Mitchell. " Then we will fight," was
the reply of Capt. Stokes. "What if we are overpowered?" said
Mitchell. " Run the boat to the deepest part of the river and sink
her," replied Stokes. "I'll do it," was the heroic answer of
Mitchell, and away they went past the secession battery, past the
St. Louis levee, and in the regular channel on to Alton. When
they touched the landing, Capt. Stokes, fearing pursuit, ran to the
market house and rang the fire bell. The citizens came flocking
pell-mell to the river, and soon men, women and children were
tugging away at that vessel load of arms, which they soon had
deposited in freight cars and off to Springfield.



The people were liberal as well as patriotic; and while the men
were busy enlisting, organizing and equipping companies, the ladies
were no less active, and the noble, generous work performed by
their tender, loving hands deserves mention along with the bravery,
devotion and patriotism of their brothers upon the Southern fields
of carnage.

The continued need of money to obtain the comforts and neces-
saries for the sick and wounded of our army suggested to the loyal
women of the North many and various devices for the raising of
funds. Every city, town and village had its fair, festival, picnic,
excursion, concert, which netted more or less to the cause of
hospital relief, according to the population of the place and the
amount of energy and patriotism displayed on such occasions.
Especially was this characteristic of our own fair State, and scarcely
a hamlet within its borders which did not send something from its
stores to hospital or battlefield, and in the larger towns and cities
were well-organized soldiers' aid societies, working systematically
and continuously from the beginning of the war till its close. The
great State Fair held in Chicago in May, 1865, netted $250,000.
Homes for traveling soldiers were established all over the State, in
which were furnished lodging for 600,000 men, and meals valued
at $2,500,000. Food, clothing, medicine, hospital delicacies,
readino- matter, and thousands of other articles, were sent to the

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 10 of 79)