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The southern politicians had deliberately divided the Democratic vote between Mr. Breckenridge and Mr. Douglas, making Mr. Lincoln's election certain, which the South desired. Almost instantly the South began preparations for the coming war; the southern members of Congress and Senators resigned; southern state after state passed ordinances of secession, and voted millions of dollars to arm and equip soldiers; on the 9th of February, 1861, Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, at Montgomery, Alabama, were chosen President and Vice President of the “Southern Confederacy.” Forts, arsenals, and public buildings were seized, and the South became an
What was the North doing all this time? Absolutely nothing. The North, like a giant, was still, waiting for the inauguration of the new President, who was inaugurated at Washington, March 4, 1861, speaking kindly to the South in his inaugural address, saying, in part: "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you.” Although the South was an armed camp the new President, and the North, quietly waited for the South to begin the war.
On April 14, 1861, fifty years ago today, Fort Sumter was fired upon by the Rebels. On the 15th, President Lincoln called for 75,000 three months volunteers. On the 18th of April, 1861, the proclamation of Governor Yates, of Illinois, calling for six regiments of volunteers, was read in the Court House at Freeport, and a few minutes later William Polk came into the Court House, and requested me to draw up an agreement to enlist in the army, which I did, and signed it before any one else had a chance to do so, and in that manner it happened that I was the first volunteer in Stephenson County that enlisted as a private soldier in the Civil War; before night the company was full, and I was elected Captain, and the company was accepted by Governor Yates, and was soon ordered to Springfield, and between Decatur and Springfield the train was side tracked to let a special train bearing Senator Douglas, who had spoken at Indianapolis the evening before, go ahead of our train, and upon arriving at the Wabash depot in Springfield some one on horseback told us to wait until Senator Douglas arrived from his hotel, and he soon came, and standing up in his open carriage, he welcomed the volunteers to the capital of Illinois, and bade them God-speed in the work in which they were about to engage, saying among other things, “The time has come where there can be but two parties in this country, a party of patriots, and a party of traitors.” I tell you, my fellow citizens, my hat went high in the air for Senator Douglas, and I have been one of his admirers from that hour. He was as loyal to his country as was Abraham Lincoln. Better than that, the Douglas Democrats of Illinois, and better still, the Douglas Democrats throughout all the loyal North were as loyal as their loyal leader. Had he lived he would have been a great leader of the loyal people. My company was attached to the 11th Regiment, Col. W. H. L. Wallace.
In that first call for volunteers in the Civil War the fourteen northern counties attached to this State, April 7, 1818, on the motion of Nathaniel Pope, Territorial delegate in Congress, were especially distinguished. That section was settled almost entirely by immigrants from New England, and the Free States, who loved liberty for themselves, and for all the world besides. From one of those counties, under the command of General R. K. Swift, on April 21, 1861, went troops that occupied Cairo, keeping Illinois in the Union.
How they did come from everywhere, the volunteers—Democrats and Republicans mingling together and crowding around the enrolling officers, party sunk in patriotism—the sun-burned farmer boys from their fields, the grimy mechanics from their shops, the pale student from his school or college, the clerk from his store, the bookkeeper from his counting house, the lawyers from their offices; even the ministers from their pulpits, the grey-haired sire and the slender boy, from every walk in life, humble or exalted, until the ranks were more than full, and with sad hearts they were turned homeward, denied the privilege to be among the first. I think that if President Lincoln had made his first call for a million soldiers for the war, the call would have been quickly filled, and the war quickly ended; but in all probability slavery would not have been destroyed, and I think that I can now see the guiding hand of God in the halting provisions at first made for the great war. But the patriotism of the volunteers never cooled, it only grew deeper and stronger until other calls were made to fill the vacant ranks that the casualties of war had depleted; it was grand beyond any words of mine to tell; and grander and nobler was the abiding confidence and continuing patriotism of the volunteers, that not only in the hours of excitement flamed up, but in the darkest hours of disaster and defeat glowed warmly and brightly, sustaining them in the weary routine duties of dull camp life, on the long and tiresome marches, in the toilsome work of building fortifications, on the lonely picket post, in the sad hospitals, in the Confederate prisons, amid the awful shock of battle, everywhere and always during the long weary years until the final victory came, and the volunteers had saved the Union, had saved the Nation, had saved "the hope of freedom in the world by keeping the jewel of Liberty in the family of Nations."
From one of those fourteen northern counties, Jo Daviess, came a quiet, silent gentleman, anxious to serve his country in any capacity, U. S. Grant, whom I saw in April, 1861, at a table in the hall under a stairway in the old State House ruling blanks to be printed for the volunteer soldiers, and who rose to the command of all the armies, the greatest General of the century in which he lived, twice President of the United States. And from that same northern county came General John A. Rawlins, whose patriotism never cooled, afterwards Secretary of War; and Major General John E. Smith, and Brigadier Generals J. A. Maltby and A. L. Chetlain, and Colonel Thomas E. Champion, and Lieutenant Colonel John C. Smith, and Captain J. Bates Dixon, Adjutant General of the Army of the Cumberland. And from the adjoining northern county of Stephenson came Lieutenant General John M. Schofield, at one time a clerk in the Freeport postoffice, one of the great army commanders and Secretary of War; and Colonel Thomas J. Turner, ex-Speaker of the Illinois' General Assembly, and ex-Member of Congress; Colonel John A. Davis, mortally wounded at the battle of Hatchie; and Colonel Holden Putnam, killed at the battle of Missionary Ridge. And from another northern county, little Boone, came Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut, as gallant and competent a soldier as ever served in any army; and from Winnebago, Colonel Jason Marsh, and Thomas J. Lawler, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. From Lee County, Colonel Silas Noble, and Colonel John B. Wyman of the 13th Illinois, killed at Chickasaw Bayou; and John D. Crabtree, Judge of the Circuit Court; and Henry D. Dement, exSecretary of State. From Whiteside, Brigadier General Edward N. Kirk, killed early in the war, and William M. Kilgour; and from Lake County, Gen. John L. Beveridge, Governor of Illinois, and Gen. George C. Rodgers; and from Kane, General John F. Farnsworth, a Member of Congress, and Colonel John S. Wilcox; from McHenry County, Colonel Lawrence S. Church, a member of the Illinois Legislature, and Colonel T. W. Humphrey, killed in battle; and from DeKalb, Daniel S. Dustin, and E. F. Dutton; and from Cook, General John McArthur, General Julius White, General Thomas 0. Osborn, General John Basil Turchin, Colonel of the 19th Illinois, one of the best fighting generals of the Army of the Cumberland; Colonel David Stewart of the 55th Illinois; General James A. Mulligan, Colonel Ezra Taylor, Major Arthur C. Ducat, Inspector General of the Army of the Cumberland; Judge Henry V. Freeman, and 0. L. Mann, sheriff of Cook County, R. W. Healey, F. A. Starring, Joseph A. Stockton, James A. Sexton, and General Charles T. Hotchkiss. I have only mentioned by name those with whom I was personally acquainted, a few only, a very few of the gallant soldiers among the thousands upon thousands who helped to illustrate the patriotism of northern Illinois in those trying days, all as worthy of mention. After all it was the men who carried the muskets who fought the battles of the great war, and saved liberty for the world, and northern Illinois furnished its full quota of patriotic soldiers.
The war is over. Slavery is forever dead, and has only historical interest. The Union is restored, not only technically, but in the hearts of the people everywhere. One flag, one country, one destiny. May the victory endure “until the stars are old, and the sun grows cold, and the leaves of the Judgment Book unfold.”
THE DREAM OF THE SOUTH-STORY OF ILLINOIS DURING
THE CIVIL WAR.
Eugene F. Baldwin, Peoria. The dream of the southern leaders was a great slave empire. In their imagination, they saw the southern states take in the West India Islands, Mexico, Central America, the states of South America fringing on the Caribbean Sea. As the Mediterranean Sea was once a Roman lake, they hoped to repeat the experiment in the new world. They saw in imagination themselves as the rulers of this new empire; divested of the evils attaching to military rule, each man was to be a feudal baron, supreme in his own domain, possessing upon his acres the power of life and death over his retainers, and only controlled by a loose attachment to a central authority.
Jefferson foreshadowed it when he insisted that the policy of the Union was to discriminate against the growth of cities; to hold the agricultural class as the true source of power, the basis of a nation's wealth and the bulwark of the nation's freedom. So late as 1820 Jefferson bitterly opposed the Missouri Compromise, holding that this created a sectional feeling, and that it would be infinitely better to extend slavery over the whole Union than to confine it within territorial limits.
Calhoun had, up to that time, been an ardent protectionist; but now, he too, caught the inspiration and during the rest of his life, devoted himself to instilling into the southern mind a prejudice against northern methods and northern men. He was never weary of saying that at the outbreak of the revolution, Charleston was a more important shipping point than New York City, and but for the tariff, it would still be the great entreport for the south. Really, the tariff was only a pretext for the nullification acts of South Carolina in 1832 which Jackson so resolutely crushed. None of the southern statesmen were able to understand that slavery as an economical proposition was a failure, and while they grew poorer and poorer every year, they sought the cause, not in the failure of their system, but in legislation which they insisted was steadily framed in order to give the north the advantage in trade.
Calhoun also saw that it was idle to attempt to cut the Mississippi Valley in two, and so, he endeavored to detach Illinois from the northern column and to make it a southern state, so that there would be no longer the reproach that the Mississippi must not be obstructed, but “that its waters must flow unvexed to the sea." After the failure of the secession movement in 1832, he advocated the construction of a railroad from Charleston to Cairo, knowing that with two great slave states—Illinois and Missouri-on each side of the Father of the Waters, the land west of the Mississippi must come into the scheme as a matter of course.
The ordinance of 1787 which dedicated the northwestern territory to freedom was passed as a financial measure because Manasseh Cutler, the fiscal agent for that territory, declared that he could not sell the land if slavery were permitted, and the measure passed by the aid of southern votes. But the southern statesmen soon saw their error and a vigorous effort was made in 1818, when Illinois was admitted to the Union, to have slavery incorporated into its fundamental law. The effort failed by a narrow margin, but the effort two years afterwards was renewed in Missouri and was successful. Encouraged by this effort, an attempt was made in the early 20's to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of admitting slavery, but this was defeated by the patriotism of Governor Coles who, although a Virginian, fought the measure and defeated the pro-slavery men. The conflict, therefore, in the west was fought out in this State under peculiar conditions. The early settlers in the southern part of the State were from the slave states. Numbers of these were poor whites. They settled along the banks of the streams; devoted themselves to hunting and fishing; voted the democratic ticket; hurrahed for Jackson and "damned the nigger.” When Douglas and Lincoln were holding their joint debate, Douglas declared that Lincoln would not dare make the same speech in southern Illinois that he made in Freeport and Ottawa, and Lincoln never denied the accusation.
When Sumpter was fired upon and Douglas exhorted his friends to stand by the Union, in the great wave of patriotism that surged over the land like a tidal wave, all classes
sprang to arms, and this very element that originally came from the south speedily enlisted and did valiant service for the cause. The stay-at-homes, however, still nourished their old prejudices and frequently avowed that they were willing to contribute to the cause of the Union, but they wouldn't vote a man nor a dollar “to free the nigger.” This sentiment speedily found voice.
After the reverses of Bull Run and the failure of the “On-to-Richmond” movement, public opinion steadily drifted away from support of the administration, and in the elections of 1862 a Democratic majority was returned, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of this State. They met in Springfield in angry mood. On January 1st the Emancipation Proclamation was to take effect. In the Senate were such men as William H. Green of Massac; W. A. J. Sparks of Clinton; John T. Lindsay of Peoria. Some idea may be obtained of the intensity of party feeling in that day when Lindsay in a public speech declared that “if hell were boiled down to the consistency of a pint of liquid fire and the whole contents poured down the throat of Abraham Lincoln, the dose would be altogether too good for him.” In the House were Sam Buckmaster of Madison; Scott Wike of Pike; S. P. Shope of Fulton; W. W. O'Brien of Peoria and Melville W. Fuller of Cook, all of whom figured afterwards in the politics of this State as vigorous opponents of the administration. The House organized by electing Sam Buckmaster speaker, and the Governor's message was laid before them on the 6th day of January.