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"With men who were eager for war, whose hopes of martial glory ran so high, to be quartered in the old criminal home [Alton Prison] grated harshly, and they did not enter those dark recesses with much gusto. During our stay here the regiment was every day marched out on the city commons by Colonel Cook, and there exercised in the manual of arms and the battalion evolutions until they attained a proficiency surpassed by none in the service. On the nineteenth of May, private Harvey of Company A died the first death in the regiment. The first soldier in the first regiment to offer his life for the flag and freedom. On the second of June private Dunsmore of the same company falls into a soldier's grave.

 

May the loyal people ever remember these first sacrifices so willingly offered in the morning of the rebellion."                                       See full article below


 

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Civil War Newspaper Clippings

 

Source: Syracuse, New York Daily Journal, January 22, 1861

There is a small party in St. Louis, Missouri, in favor of secession, and upon some recent manifestations of this party, a correspondent of the Missouri Democrat, writing from Alton, Illinois, threatens St. Louis with a novel but very effectual kind or coercion. He says that the Mississippi can be brought into a different channel, on the Illinois side, and this would be done in case of secession, leaving St. Louis seven or eight miles from the river. It will not be necessary to do anything to effect this, as the force of the water would have long since done it but for the continued efforts of the people of St. Louis to keep the river to themselves, and that many millions of dollars have been spent in these efforts. Of course, after secession the people of Illinois would have no desire to benefit a foreign nation, but would rather build up instead, a rival city at Alton.

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7TH ILLINOIS REGIMENT STAYS AT ALTON PRISON

Source: History of the Seventh Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, From April 25, 1861 to July 9, 1865, by D. Leib Ambrose, 1868 (Book in Public Domain)

At this time the firm steps of Illinois patriot men were heard keeping step to the music of the Union. In every direction her stalwart sons were seen marching towards the Capital. The loyal pulse never beat so central and quickening as at this period. After the organization of the regiment on the twenty seventh, they are marched from Camp Yates to the armory, where they receive their arms -  the Harper's Ferry altered musket - after which the regiment marches to the depot and embarks for Alton, Illinois where the regiment arrives at 4 p.m. [about April 25, 1861]  and are quartered in the old State Penitentiary. With men who were eager for war, whose hopes of martial glory ran so high, to be quartered in the old criminal home grated harshly, and they did not enter those dark recesses with much gusto. During our stay here the regiment was every day marched out on the city commons by Colonel Cook, and there exercised in the manual of arms and the battalion evolutions until they attained a proficiency surpassed by none in the service. On the nineteenth of May, private Harvey of Company A died the first death in the regiment. The first soldier in the first regiment to offer his life for the flag and freedom. On the second of June private Dunsmore of the same company falls into a soldier's grave. May the loyal people ever remember these first sacrifices so willingly offered in the morning of the rebellion. On the third of July [1861] the regiment embarked on board the steamer "City of Alton" for Cairo, Illinois. Passing down the river the steamer is hailed and brought to at the St Louis Arsenal and after the necessary inspection proceeds on her way.

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Source: Clyde, New York Times, May 8, 1861

The St. Louis Arsenal - How It was Stripped. Secessionists Outwitted by a Clyde Man.  Citizens of Alton Come to the Aide of Captain Stokes.
From the Chicago Tribune. Springfield, Ill., April 28, 1861
Capt. James H. Stokes, of Chicago, formerly proprietor of the Glass Works, of Clyde, Wayne County, N. Y., and previously of the Regular Army, having seen actual service in Florida, volunteered to undertake the perilous mission of transferring twenty-one thousand stand of arms from St. Louis to Springfield; and Gov. Yates placed in his hands the requisition of the Secretary of War for ten thousands muskets. Capt. Stokes went to St Louis and made his way as rapidly as possible to the Arsenal. He found it surrounded by an immense mob, and the postern gates all closed. His efforts to penetrate the crowd were for a long time unavailing. At last he managed to attract the attention of one of the guards, by whom he sent for the Captain of the Company stationed at that part of the Arsenal yard, and to him he made known that he was a bearer of dispatches from the War Department. With some difficulty he was admitted without attracting the particular notice of the crowd. On reaching the Arsenal proper, he learned that Major Hayner, of the Ordnance Department had just been ordered to Leavenworth, whither he had gone the previous day. He had been superseded by Major Callender, an old Classmate of Capt. Stokes at West Point. A council was immediately held between Capt. Stokes, Major Callender, and Capt. Lyon, the latter being the officer in command of the regular troops and volunteers. The requisition was shown. Capt. Lyon doubted the possibility of executing it. He said the arsenal was surrounded by a thousand spies, and every movement was watched and reported to the headquarters of the secessionists, who could throw an overpowering force upon them at any moment. Capt Stokes represented that every hours' delay was rendering the capture of the arsenal uncertain, and the arms must be removed to Illinois, now or never. Maj. Callender agreed with him, and told him to take them at his own time and in his own way. This was Wednesday night. Capt. Stokes had a spy in the camp of the secessionists whom he met at intervals in a certain place in that city. On Thursday he received information that Gov. Jackson had ordered two thousand armed men down from Jefferson City, whose movements could only contemplate a seizure of the arsenal by occupying the heights around it and planting batteries thereon. The job would have been an easy one. They had already planted one battery on the St. Louis Levee, and another on Powder Point, a short distance below the arsenal. Capt Stokes immediately telegraphed to Alton, to have the steamer "City of Alton" drop down to the arsenal landing about midnight. He then returned to the arsenal and commenced moving the boxes of guns, weighing some three hundred pounds each, down to the lower floor. About seven hundred men were employed in the work. He then took five hundred Kentucky flint-lock muskets, which had been sent there to be altered, and sent them to be placed on a steamer as a blind to cover his real movements. The secessionists nabbed them at once, and raised a perfect bedlam over the capture. A large portion of the outside crowd left the Arsenal when this movement was executed, and Capt. Lyon took the remainder who were lying around as spies, and locked them up in his guard house. About 11 o'clock the steamer "City of Alton" came alongside, planks were shoved out from the windows to the main deck, and the boxes slid down. When the ten thousand were safely on board, Capt Stokes went to Capt. Lyon and Major Callender, and urged them by the most pressing appeals, to let him empty the arsenal. They told him to go ahead and take whatever he wanted. Accordingly, he took eleven thousand more muskets, five hundred new rifle carbines, fire hundred revolvers, one hundred and ten thousand musket cartridges, to say nothing of the cannons, and a large quantity of miscellaneous accoutrements, leaving only seven thousand muskets to arm the St. Louis Volunteers. When the whole were on board, about two o'clock Friday morning, the order was given, by the Captain of the steamer to cast off. Judge of the consternation of all hands when it was found she would not move. The arms had been piled around the engines to protect them against the battery on the levee, and the great weight had fastened the bows of the boat firmly on a rock, which was tearing a bole through the bottom at every turn of the wheels. A man of less nerve than Captain Stokes would have gone crazy on the spot. He called the Arsenal men on board, and commenced moving the boxes to the stern. Fortunately, when about two hundred boxes had been shifted, the boat fell away from the shore and floated in deep water. "Which way?" said Capt. Mitchell. "Straight to Alton in the regular channel," replied Capt Stokes. "What if we are attacked?" said Capt. Mitchell. "Then we will fight!" said Capt. Stokes. "What if we are overpowered?" said Capt. M. "Run her to the deepest part of the river and sink her," replied Captain S. "I'll do it," was the heroic answer of Captain Mitchell, and away they went past the secession battery, past the entire St. Louis levee, and on to Alton, in the regular channel, where they arrived at five o'clock the next morning. When the boat touched her landing, Capt Stokes, fearing pursuit by some of the secession military companies, by which the city of St. Louis is disgraced, ran to the Market House and rang the fire bell. The citizens came flocking pell-mell to the river, in all sorts of habiliments. Capt. Stokes informed them of the situation of things, and pointed out the freight cars. Instantly, men, women and children boarded the steamer, seized the freight and clambered up the levee to the cars. Rich and poor tugged together with might and main for two hours, when the cargo was all deposited in the cars and the train moved off, amid their enthusiastic cheers, for Springfield. When Captain Stokes reached this city, he was so exhausted by 60 hours of incessant labor and excitement that he fell asleep while endeavoring the recount his adventures to Judge Trumbull. Secession has now received its fatal blow, not only in St. Louis, but throughout Missouri. When it became known that the arms were gone, the St. Louis Republican began to preach peace and neutrality, the minutemen ceased brawling for Jeff. Davis in the streets, and Gov. Jackson began to advise against calling the state convention together. While Capt. Stokes was taking the arms, the secessionists were planning to take the Government powder house about a mile below. It is reported that they had seized it before they became aware that the Arsenal was emptied. The Union, now and forever!
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Source: Watertown, New York Reformer, 1861/1862

Four hundred and ninety-one of the rebel prisoners at Alton, Ill., have taken the oath of allegiance and been released.

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Source: The State League, Syracuse, New York, abt. 1862

Two women disguised in men's clothes, enlisted at Alton, Ill., last week, but on being discovered, were sent home to their friends, utterly against their wishes.
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Source: The Syracuse, New York Daily Standard, April 21, 1862

Arrest of Col. Jennison.  Leavenworth, April 19.
Col. Jennison, late of the 7th Kansas regiment, has been arrested by the military authorities and sent to Alton, Ill. The cause of his arrest is said to be insubordination and exciting mutiny. Lieut, Hoyt, of the same regiment, is also under arrest.
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Source: Utica, New York Daily Observer, March 29, 1862

Many prisoners have been taken; some been permitted to take the oath, though frequently but to violate it, and go home. Some have been sent to St. Louis, or to the penitentiary at Alton, Illinois, and a few, convicted of burning bridges, are sentenced to be shot to death. Whether this sentence will be carried out remains to be seen. Union men here more generally think it should be, as a policy of mercy as well as justice. Many innocent lives have been lost by this wholesale murder, and how many more may be destroyed God only knows, unless this infamous work of burning and otherwise destroying railroad bridges and tracks can be prevented. Their plea, that it is done as a policy of war, and in most instances, as they allege, by command of Price or his subordinates, it is thought should have no weight, inasmuch as it is within our lines where they could have no military control of roads whatever, and done, too, under the guise of citizens making their way through our lines for this express purpose. I visit these poor fellows in their cells under sentence of death. Two or three are men of families. They do not appear to see the turpitude of their crime, disguised under the garb of patriotism, as they and their sympathizing secession friends who visit them profess to regard it. They seem to think themselves martyrs! Such is fanaticism in any shape.

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ARRIVAL OF CANNON IN ALTON

Source: Alton Telegraph, September 12, 1862

The field pieces that Governor Yates promised should be sent to Alton for the defense of the city arrived last night. They are two fine brass six pounders. We learn that a company is to be formed from our city fire companies, to take charge of them, and learn how to make use of them in case there is any raid made upon our city.

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ARMY BREAD AT ALTON

Source: Alton Telegraph, October 10, 1862

We learn that considerable attention is being given by our citizens, and also of the soldiers quartered here, to the fact that new parties have undertaken the contract to furnish bread for this Military post, without proposals being advertised in the usual public way. Our city bakers have not had the usual and proper opportunity to put in their bids. The bread is now being furnished by an army suttler, we are informed. How can this be? What becomes of the Army Regulations in the promises?

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Source: The Syracuse, New York Daily Standard, May 13, 1863

Dr. W. A. Cheatham and family has been ordered to Alton, Ill, to be confined during the war.  Mrs. Cheatham is the sister of Mrs. John Morgan.
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Source: Utica, New York Morning Herald, July 24, 1863

The commander of the military post which includes Nashville has issued an order that any person found interfering with or tearing down any barricade, [unreadable] pit, ditch, or embankment, or the military dams on the west end of Nashville constructed for the defense of the city, will be arrested and dealt with as a public enemy. All guards are ordered to arrest on the spot, any person so offending, and if on trial convicted, they will be sent to the Penitentiary at Alton, Ill.

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Source: The State League, Syracuse, New York, 1862 - 1866

Abolitionist Sentiment in "Egypt"

A correspondent of the St Louis Republican, writing from Alton, Illinois, says:
There is another fact even more potent than the consolidation of individuals on the war question. I refer to the change or growth of public sentiment on the question of slavery. This work was begun and is caused by the Gulf slave states. These States are tolling the knell of .American slavery. It is almost too late, now, for them to pause in their mad career and save their social system from destruction. Their stubborn resistance in Virginia more firmly gathers and centres the northern determination. The swarming of guerrillas in the border states only the more inculcates the leacon of force applied to meet force, and of fighting the devil with his own fire, even to extermination. Slavery is as well the weakness as the strength of the rebellion. In sentiment, the civilized world is against it, if not against the rebels. Wherever the northern army moves, it is annihilated. As was truly remarked in a speech of a democrat; of late, who is in the service, the rebels now term every free state man an abolitionist, and when the latter goes to the war every tendency is to make him so.
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Source: Watertown, New York Daily Times, February 20, 1862

Gen. Halleck has issued an order that in consideration of the recent victories won by the Federal forces, and the rapidly increasing loyalty of the citizens of Missouri, the sentence of the eight bridge burners condemned to death are provisionally mitigated to close confinement in the military prison at Alton. If, however, rebel spies again destroy the railroads and telegraph lines, and thus render it necessary to make severe examples, the original sentences against these men will be carried into execution. No further assessments will be levied or collected from any one who will now take the prescribed oath of allegiance. Boards of commissioners will be appointed to examine the cases of prisoners of war who apply to take the oath of allegiance. On their recommendation, orders will be issued for their release.

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Source: The Daily Standard, Syracuse, New York, March 31, 1862

A Rare Curiosity

Mr. Alfred Wilkinson, who has recently returned from a southwestern tour, as far as St. Louis, has in his possession a pipe made by one of the rebel prisoners at Alton, Illinois, which is a rare specimen of ingenuity and skill, as well as persevering industry. The material of the pipe is cotton stone, a soft stone found in the south, easily worked, and susceptible of a fine polish. The bowl of the pipe is square, and Is beautifully carved. One of the sides presents the new rebel flag, and the other the Palmetto tree, with the cotton plant and rattle, snake, appropriate emblems of the rebellion. The front bears the coat-of-arms of Missouri, with the usual scrolls and mottoes. It is understood that the work was executed with a pen-knife, by a young man who had no experience in carving, and regarding it in that light the work Is a marvel of taste and skill.

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Source: The Oswego Commercial Times, August 20, 1862

We learn that Major Underwood, who has been for some time on the retired list of army officers, has so far recovered his health, as to again resume active duties. He has been ordered by the department to report himself at Alton, Illinois, as President of a board of investigation. After these duties are finished the Major resumes active service in the field. Major Underwood is an excellent officer, and if an opportunity offers, will make his mark.

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Source: Skaneateles, New York Democrat, September 24, 1863

Brigadier General Jeff Thompson, the notorious rebel swamp ranger and bushwhacker, with his adjutant, Capt. Reuben Kay, are now in the Alton, Ill. military prison. They will soon be transferred to Johnson's Island.

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COAL BRANCH BOYS ENLIST IN 1ST REGIMENT OF COL. PHILLIPS
Source: Alton Telegraph, June 3, 1864
The Illinois Journal of Saturday last says, that it learns "that the first regiment of one hundred days' men, Col. Phillips, are to be mustered into the service today at Camp Butler." This is the regiment to which the Upper town [Upper Alton] and Coal Branch boys are attached, and we know they will be rejoiced to get into active service, for they had become very tired lying idle at Camp Butler.
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Source: Albany, New York Evening Journal, July 10, 1864

We, the undersigned commissioned officers of the Twenty-Second Illinois Infantry, having seen an article in the Missouri Republican of the 9th inst., in which it stated that two hundred and ten men out of two hundred and ninety of the regiment were McClellan men - that is in favor of Gen. McClellan for the next President, pronounce that statement to be an unqualified falsehood.

 

F. Swanwick, Lt. Col. Commanding, Chester, Ill. Sam'l Johnson, Major, Collins Station. Ill. J. Norris Morgan, Capt., Co. H., Alton, Ill.

A. J. Welch, 1st Lt., Co. C., Centralia, Ill.

Sam'l T. Malcolm, Capt., Co. A., Carlyle, Ill.

J. W. Brown, Asst. Surgeon, Sparta, Ill.

W. S. Ford, Adjutant, Carlyle, Ill.

Jas. L. Buchanan, Capt., Co. K., Greenville, Ill.

Frank Allen, 1st Lieut., Co. B, Alton, Ill.

Robert McKenzie, 2d Lieut., Co. B., Alton, Ill.

William Leishman, 2d Lt, Co. K, Belleville, Ill.

Anthony Young, 1st Lt., Co. K, Alton, Ill.

 

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Source:  The Alton Telegraph, August 19, 1864

General Rosecrans has requested the citizens of Alton to raise a regiment of soldiers to serve one year as guards for the prison at this post. The following is the appeal of the General: "By authority from the War Department and agreement with Governor Yates, I appeal to you to raise a regiment of infantry to serve twelve months. I want them for guards of Alton prison, but I want them to be of high soldierly bearing and to make their qualification and behavior the condition on which they will be kept on the duty. Each non-commissioned officer and private will receive a bounty of one hundred dollars and be exempt from the draft, while he will count on your quota. The officers will be commissioned on my recommendation by the Governor of Illinois. As these troops are wanted immediately, I hope for a prompt response. W. S. Rosecrans, Maj. Gen."   The appeal to the citizens of Alton was received by the undersigned this morning, and I deem it an eminently fit opportunity for the citizens to respond cordially and with alacrity, as the occasion seems to require. The advantages to us are manifest, besides securing mild service at home, we shall have fill our quota on the last call and some to spare, and thus maintain the proud pre-eminence of the State of Illinois in responding voluntarily to all the calls of the Government. Every man thus employed will help to swell the ranks in the field with tried veterans, and I confidently appeal to the citizens of Alton to come forward at this time and thus rally to the support of our Government.  Edward Hollister, Mayor.

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Albany, New York Evening Journal, September 12, 1864

The Prisoners at Andersonville
From a gentleman lately from Andersonville, and who, from his acquaintance with the officials there, is in position to speak knowingly, we learn that the statement that three hundred Yankees having died one warm day last month, which has been going the round of the press, it incorrect. The greatest mortality on any one day has never exceeded 127, and though, in comparison with the statement referred to, this may seem slight less, a few words will show that it is in reality almost appalling. There are now at Andersonvilie something over 30,000 prisoners, and at the rate of 127 per day, the deaths would amount to 1 in every 237. Did the same ratio of mortality prevail in New York, computing the population of that city at 800,000, the deaths there would amount up to 3,326 per day - more than six times the real number. The greatest mortality among our prisoners in the North occurred at Alton, Ill., where among 7,000, the loss was 27 per day, or one in every 111. The difference between the mortalities North and South is due, however, less to any difference in rations and treatment, than to that utter prostration of mind and body which overwhelms the Yankee, but against which the Confederate soldier bears up as bravely as if facing the bullet and bayonet in the field.

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Source: The Daily Courier, Syracuse, New York, January 18, 1865

The steamer, Belle of Memphis, brings 35 rebel prisoners from Little Rock for Alton, Illinois.

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Source:  The Alton Telegraph, January 13, 1865

There is hardly a day passes but we hear of some new recital of the terrible sufferings and deprivations which our prisoners in rebel hands are called upon to endure. Thousands and thousands of them have absolutely perished from want and exposure; and multitudes of those who have survived have been reduced to mere skeletons, and have suffered almost every affliction which it was possible for fiends to inflict. The very recital of their hardships and deprivations makes the blood tingle in the veins of every patriotic and humane person. These atrocities and the cruel treatment which our prisoners received was for a long time accounted for on the ground of the scarcity of provisions, which it was said existed in Dixie; but since the raid which Sherman has made through Georgia, this flimsy excuse has exploded. It is now know that food in superabundance is to be found in the vicinity of Andersonville, where our prisoners have suffered the most, and there is no excuse, on that score, for the treatment which our brave boys have received at their hands. It is the result of the cruel and bitter hatred of the rebel authorities against the northern people, and is not the outgrowth of the system of slavery, which has destroyed every humane feeling in the hearts of those who were brought up under its withering and blighting influence. They are as much accustomed, and as really hardened, to human suffering as the butcher is to that of the animal creation. .... But what surprises us, is, that while the rebels are treating our prisoners in this way, that their officers, which have fallen into our hands are paroled and are permitted to run foot loose; put up at our first class hotels, and live upon the fat of the land. This was the case a short time since in St. Louis, and is so now in this city. We have been credibly informed that there are several rebel officers now at large, who have their names and ranks spread upon the hotel registers; are received into society and treated as good loyal men. And it has been asserted, that at the late ball in this city, one of these paroled officers was in the room, all evening, with a Confederate rosette pinned to his bosom....No wonder our brave boys in blue feel like cursing their country, when they are released from the filthy and dirty prisons of the South, - where they have suffered a hundred deaths, - and return home, to find those who sanctioned and encouraged the cruelty visited upon them, feasted and their society sought, while they are passed by with a sneer or a curl of the lip, and when the taunt expresses itself in words, it is, that they are nothing but common soldiers. There is a great wrong here which calls loudly for a remedy. Will our military authorities examine into the matter?

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Source: Alton Weekly Telegraph, January 20, 1865

The funeral of Lieut. J. S. Robinson - There was a very large concourse of citizens and soldiers attended the funeral services of this young and lamented officer, yesterday morning at the Baptist Church. The house was filled to its utmost capacity and many were unable to find admittance. Colonel Richard Rowett, of the Seventh Regiment, was present on the occasion, having come from his home in Carlinville, where he is slowly recovering from a wound received in the Allatoona fight. The Rev. Mr. Jameson, pastor of the church, conducted the services on the occasion in a very fitting and appropriate manner. After the services were concluded, the many friends of the deceased were permitted to take a last look upon his remains. His features were remarkably well preserved, considering the number of days that had elapsed since his death. The military then took possession of his corpse; a suitable number of Lieutenants being detailed to act as pallbearers, the procession moving toward the cemetery headed by a band of music. Lieut. Robinson volunteered in the 7th IL regiment while it was employed in this city as a guard for the military prison in 1861, and again re-enlisted as a veteran. He early rose to the rank of Lieutenant and was soon made the Adjutant of the regiment, which position he filled with credit to himself and to the great satisfaction of the regiment. But for some time previous to his receiving his fatal wound, he had been acting Adjutant of the ? of which Col. Rowett was in command. To give some idea of the terrible fighting which the 7th regiment was engaged when he fell, it is only necessary for us to state that one man out of every two of that regiment was either killed or taken prison at Allatoona. The remainder of the men are now with Sherman at Savannah. We are requested, in behalf of the family and friends, to return thanks to Lt. Col. Kuhn for the military escort and band furnished for the occasion.

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Source:  The Alton Telegraph, February 3, 1865

The Alton Democrat of last evening contained a communication signed "Co. B., 144th." As a citizen of Alton, I consider the article an insult to myself, and every other taxpayer and property holder in this city, and the imported editor of the Democrat will certainly find out that respectable citizens cannot help to support and sustain a sheet which insults and endorses such lying and slanderous charges, and such low, vile threats, as are contained in the letter of "Co. B, 144th." After referring to the approaching draft, the writer says: "She (the city of Alton) has fooled us once but she can't do it again." "The boys of 144th credited themselves to her because they saw flaming hand bills on every corner, promising fifty dollars city and fifty dollars county bounty. But we don't see fifty cents." Now, the truth is, the city of Alton has not deceived any member of the 144th Illinois infantry. The Council never promised to give a bounty of any amount to persons enlisting in that regiment. Neither did any public meeting of the citizens propose to give a bounty to them. The City Fathers thought, and wisely thought, that the opportunity of serving their country in the capacity of prison guards, at home, and receiving pay and bounty paid to other troops, and thus avoiding the draft, would be sufficient inducement to persons to enlist without adding the incentive of a city bounty. The results showed that their idea was correct. The ranks of the regiment were filled by men who enlisted voluntarily, in most cases I believe, to avoid being drafted themselves - they at least volunteered without being promised a bounty by our City Council. The "flaming hand bills" were procured and posted up by those recruiting for the regiment, and upon them rests the responsibility of inducing the patriotic "Co. B, 144th" to enlist. I think it very likely the writer of the "soldier's letter" had another very strong inducement to enlist in the Alton Guards - he would be out of danger and exempt from the draft. I know of some individuals in that regiment who were drafted before enlisting in it, and seeing their names published, came to this city and enlisted before they were notified. Is it not possible that "Co. B, 144th" is one of them? Since the organization of the regiment - some four months - the officers and members of the 144th have not been paid. The privates who had families depending upon them for support, in many cases were unable to supply them with the necessaries of life. A meeting was held in the City Hall, Mayor Hollister presiding, and a committee was appointed to obtain money and relieve the wants of such as were needy. Some of the members of the regiment were dissatisfied with this arrangement, and as it was about the 8th of November, certain parties tried hard to make political capital out of the matter. Since that time, as one of the officers told me some time ago, "the privates who had families have been better off than the officers, and lived better."    Yet this writer says:

 

"We hear that there is a great deal of recruiting going on in this city now, and that these intensely loyal stay-at-home-bounty giving leaguers are briskly engaged trying to get their credits to this small town. If these recruits will take the advice of those who tried them, they will not credit themselves to Alton. If they do the next they will hear of will be a 'big meeting of loyal citizens' being held in the City Hall, discussing the propriety of putting them in charge of the Pauper Committee or some Indigent Committee, and that will be the last of it. Our advice to men enlisting now is to go for the precinct giving the largest bounty.  "But I (we) have said enough already, and will conclude by again warning those men about enlisting, not to give their credits to this small place."

 

Loyal citizens will do well to keep their property insured while the vengeful writer "Co. B. 144th" remains within our limits - not that he would dare do harm to property of loyal men - but that others might be induced to take the job off his hands.   ~Citizen.

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Source: Alton Weekly Telegraph, February 10, 1865

Hospital Report of the 144th Regiment: Sick received into the hospital of the 144th regiment Illinois volunteer infantry for the week ending February 2, 1865:  John Gibbs, erysipelas; Joseph Faulkner, febris remitt; C. Davis, diarrhea; Marcia Ratekin, consumption; Henry Schofield, ____; George Curtis, febris remitt; Daniel D. Williams, dysentery; Quick Williams, erysipelas; A. K. Mainard, dysentery; Julius Hills?, febria intermitt; J. Lohr, debiletis.  Died during the week ending February 2, 1865:  February 2, Martin Ratekin, consumption; February 1, John Gibbs, erysipelas.

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Source:  The Alton Telegraph, August 11, 1865

Good news for the boys of the 144th Regiment - The men of the 144th regiment Illinois volunteers enlisted for one year's service, with the promise of $100 each as bounty, from the Government, when paid, received their bounties only in such proportion as their time of actual service bore to the time for which they were enlisted. Those who had served more than six months received two-thirds, or $66.55. Some of their number submitted their cases to the local claim agent of the U. S. Sanitary Claim Agency in this city, who forwarded a statement of the facts to Darius Forbes, Esq., General Claim Agent of the United States Sanitary Commission, at Washington, and the following is in answer:  Central Office, 244 F Street, Washington, July 28, 1865. Sir, In reply to yours of the 24th inst., concerning the bounty of the 144th regiment Illinois volunteers, I have to say that the Second Comptroller has decided that men enlisted for one, two and three years, for $100, $200, or $300 bounty, are entitled to the whole of the bounty, when mustered out and discharged before the expiration of their time of service, because their services are no longer needed. Respectfully yours, Darius Forbes., Gen. Claim Agt. U. S. San. Com.  The men of the regiment are requested to be patient until instructions are received from the department how to proceed, when these instructions are received they will be published.

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Source:  The Alton Telegraph, August 18, 1865

Arrival of the 97th Illinois - The gallant 97th Illinois Illinois regiment arrived in our city yesterday about one o'clock on the cars. The stirring notes of the fife and drum and the shouts of joy and gladness from the boys, soon brought the friends and relatives of the noble fellows to the depot and many and joyful were the meetings of friends. They looked as they naturally would look, after a three years' campaign in the South, bronzed with the exposure to all kinds of weather, and healthy and robust. Many were so changed - from mere boys to full grown men, that they were at first not recognized by old friends. The short time allowed by the stay of the train barely gave an opportunity for handshaking all round, and the boys proceeded enroute for Springfield. The regimental flags, all tattered and weather-beaten, were displayed upon the roof of one of the cars and gave sad evidence of the scenes of exposure and peril through which this noble regiment has passed. It is supposed that some ten days will intervene at Springfield before the regiment is paid off.

 

General Sherman - This distinguished officer arrived in St. Louis yesterday on the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. He had been absent spending some time at his native place in Ohio.

 

Reception of the Soldiers - The good people of Wood River, Madison County, gave a grand barbacue yesterday as a general welcome home to the boys who have been periling their lives in defense of the country. The soldiers present were those from the 60th Illinois infantry, most whom suffered in Andersonville and other prisons. There was also a few present of the 2nd Illinois cavalry. The meeting was called to order, when from five to six hundred sons took their places around the stand, which was trimmed with American flags, with portraits of General Washington, the Father of America, and Abraham Lincoln, the Savior of the country, prominently displayed. There appeared on the desk in front of the speaker's stand a rooster gaily decorated in red, white, and blue, which was captured somewhere in Tennessee by the boys in blue, and it accompanied the regiment in all of its aspirations through the Southern country. There was considerable discord on the ground among the uninitiated, as the political straits of this rooster; those taking part in the debate regard him as thoroughly loyal. The exercises were opened by prayer, which the Rev. Mr. Rafferty welcomed soldiers home in an address of nearly an hour's length. Adjutant Newman, of the regiment, responded in behalf of the soldiers in an eloquent and forcible address. Captain Hodge, of the same regiment, also made a few brief remarks, complimentary to the people for their kindness to the soldiers in the field and prison. The audience then adjourned to the tables which were spread in one of the most beautiful groves that it has ever been our privilege to witness - more beautifully covered with green grass than any parlor spread with velvet carpet. On entering, it might well imagine that he had been suddenly ushered into a Mohomedan heaven. The tables fairly groaned under the luxuries of substantials of life - everything, in face, to satisfy and tempt the appetite, was there. Soon the long roll was sounded, and the brave boys fell into line, each with a lady, as natural as the elected parties of Noah's ark took their places in that vessel of safety.  After the rest of the audience mated off in the same way, and took their places in the procession - except the writer, who was compelled to walk alone - thus arranged, the procession moved off at double quick and the tables were soon completely flanked. The whole management at the dinner table was perfect in every respect. Each one was well attended to, and the supply was ample and of the best, and "all did eat and were satisfied." After getting through this part of the exercises, the people separated into small groups, each party enjoying social intercourse to their full, under the shade of those delightful walnut trees. But of what was said and done and finished from eye to eye on this occasion, even the proverbially impertinent editors have no right to speak. We are, therefore, mum on this part of the exercises. About two o'clock the audience was again called to the stand, and were addressed by John Fitch, Esq., in a few brief and patriotic remarks. He made one very important suggestion, which we hope will not be permitted to pass without further notice. He proposed that an organization be formed for the purpose of taking measures towards the erection of a monument at Edwardsville, as a memento of our appreciation of the worth of the brave soldiers from Madison county, who fell in battle with the enemies of their country. Let some steps be immediately taken for the accomplishment of this object. We suggest that a public meeting be called, to take place at Edwardsville, during the session of the County Fair, for the purpose of attending to this important matter. He was followed by a gentleman, whose name we failed to obtain, in a very forcible speech of nearly an hour's length. But if he had possessed the eloquence of a Clay, or the logic of a Webster, he could not reasonable have expected to produce much of an impression upon an audience wearied and tired out as this one was at that hour of the day. After he concluded, all returned quietly to their homes. Everything passed off very well and to the satisfaction of all present. The only criticism we feel disposed to make, is, that the speeches were generally too long, and were greatly deficient in humor and enthusiasm. People do not generally attend such places for the purpose of being instructed, but rather for the sake of being amused and having their emotions quickened. During the interview between the speeches, the following young ladies regaled the audience with some interesting and patriotic songs, viz: Miss Lucretia Hamilton, Miss Ellen Moore, Miss Mary Williams, Miss Mary Moore, Miss Delia Kersey, Miss Martha Beeman, Miss Nancy Culp, and Miss Mary Hamilton. We have no doubt their melodious voices were much more captivating to the young men who had just arrived at home from the war, than the eloquence of any of the speakers. We were informed that our brave and personal friend, Mr. Henry Platt, who served three years in the 2d cavalry regiment under command of Major Moore, had a very handsome compliment paid to him at the dinner table by having a large and tastily trimmed cake presented to him with his name baked in full on it. A well merited gift. We do not know what became of the cake, but we saw the little flag which was hoisted over it in the hands of Mr. Platt, and we have no doubt he made a wise distribution of the cake itself. Our friends in Wood River will please accept our thanks for the kind invitation they extended to us to be present on this occasion.

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Source: Buffalo, New York Evening Courier, September 8, 1869
ALTON, Ill., Sept. 8. The party were received here by a dense mass of persons, many of whom were from the surrounding country and from St. Louis and other cities. Salutes were fired and the greatest possible excitement prevailed. The excursionists were conducted to a stand previously erected, where the President. Gen. Grant, Admiral Farragut, Secretary Seward, Secretary Welles were introduced. The Mayor of Alton extended a cordial welcome to the President and the statesmen, and he accompanied him, in a neat speech. The President responded briefly. He was frequently interrupted by applause. Mr. Seward was then vociferously called. The party was then squeezed through a dense mass of human beings to the deck of the steamers Andy Johnson. Cheers were frequently repeated by the excited multitude. The President was formally introduced to Mayor Thomas and escorted to the steamer Ruth, when the bells commenced ringing for the fleet to turn their heads homeward. The steamers Andy Johnson, Ruth and Olive Branch, lashed together, made the first move forward, closely followed by as many other boats us there were original States in the Union. As soon as the fleet of steamers was under wav, the Presidential party crossed over from the Andy Johnson to the Ruth, and passed up to the cabin escorted by a detachment of Knights Templars, At this point Captain Bart Abel suggested that as the boats were about to pass the Missouri River the party should be escorted to the upper deck. The President and party were then escorted to the hurricane deck of the Ruth where they passed an hour in a most agreeable manner. Gen. Grant was kept busy in acknowledging the congratulations that were heaped upon him.

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Source:  United States Congressional Serial Set, Executive Documents of the House of Representatives 1869-1870

The Case of Captain T. W. Fry, Jr.; Quartermaster, 144th Illinois Infantry

 

On the eleventh of May, 1865, at the city of Alton, Illinois, the office and safe of Thomas W. Fry, Jr., Captain and Assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers, were burglariously entered and robbed of the sum of ten thousand eight hundred and eighteen dollars and nine cents, the public money of the Quartermaster's Department of the United States Army, then and there properly in custody of the said quartermaster, and for which he was and is lawfully responsible; and whereas it appears that said robbery was perpetrated without fault or neglect on the part of said officer: Therefore, Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury and the proper accounting officers of that department, in settling the accounts of the said Thomas W. Fry, Jr., deceased, shall allow to him such sum as may be satisfactorily proven to have been stolen at the time and place of the robbery aforesaid.

 

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled: May 25, 1870

Your memorialists respectfully represent to your honorable body that Thomas W. Fry, Junior, lately held the office of assistant quartermaster of United States volunteers, and that while stationed at Alton, State of Illinois, in the discharge of the duties of said office, the safe in which the funds in his hands were kept was broken into and robbed of the sum of ten thousand dollars, without any default or negligence of said Fry, and that all the means in his power were employed to detect the robbers and recover the money, without success; that an investigation of the facts connected with said robbery was had by the United States officers then stationed in that vicinity, the proceedings of which will be produced, and which show that said robbery was not the result of any negligence or inattention of said Fry to the duties of his said office; that said Fry had been ordered by the proper authorities to use said safe for the safekeeping of said money, and that at the time of the robbery he was absent from his office, and at St. Louis upon official duty, by order of the War Department. They further state that said Thomas W. Fry, Junior, has been connected with the army of the United States from the commencement to the termination of the war, and that in every position he has held he has discharged his duty to the satisfaction of the government. Your memorialists therefore pray than an act may be passed by your honorable body relieving the said Thomas W. Fry, Junior, and his securities, from liability for said sum of money.

Signed by:

J. S. McClelland, John W. Ross, L. A. Foote, W. B. Carr, Jas. Heaton, Jr., D. W. Paul, Jas. H. Watson, John Bishop, John W. Blair, Jr., Geo. W. Robinson, Wilson H. Laymon, Henry S. Jennison, E. R. Maxwell, Milton I. Swan, P. C. Somerville, E. Totten, J. H. VanArsdale, J. M. Conway, F. Nichols, B. M. Mills, Sam Ensminger, R. E. Bryant, A. J. Royalty, W. A. James, John Herr, Frank W. Best, Chas. D. Huffman, Jno. R. Gerhart, M. Pyke, M. H. Galey, D. C. Hunter, J. H. Meteer, E. H. Hills, R. H. Galloway, C. L. Thomas, George W. Snyder, H. S. Braden, John J. Snyder, George Vanardsdall, E. S. Simpson, Lane Willson, H. Rice Canine, W. W. Simpson, Wm. T. Brush, Ben. T. Ristine, U. M. Scott, W. S. Galey, James Knox, B. Wasson, John A. Shanklin, C. M. Crawford, James Heaton, I. C. Elston, Joseph F. Tuttle, W. C. Vance, James R. Ross, J. P. Watson, Jere. Keeney, A. Rominger, J. B. Simpson, R. A. Hightower, Jacob McIntire, and Henry Campbell.

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Source: Clyde, New York Democratic Herald, 1893

In many places elsewhere throughout the country, especially in New England and in the State of Illinois, the Government purchased burial places of limited extent, where both Union and Confederate dead were interred. For instance, in the cemetery near Alton, Ill., there is a Government plot in which are buried 163 white Union soldiers, and near by are buried 1304 Confederate prisoners.

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INTERESTING RELICS DISPLAYED IN EDWARDSVILLE - FOUND ON BATTLEFIELD

Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 28, 1897

Harnist & Dale, the druggists, have a window display this week that is particularly appropriate. It is an exhibition of war-time relics, mementoes of the Civil and other wars, carefully treasured by the owners. Bullets of all shapes, grape shot, shells, cannon balls and belt plates from a dozen different battlefields are piled up. Officers' swords, cavalry sabers, canteens, a drum and photographs of troops in the field are shown. Among the interesting articles are: a flintlock pistol with holster carried by Colonel Samuel Dale at the time of Perry's battle on lake Erie; drum carried by George Putnam through the Civil War; a huge revolver found on the field of Shiloh by Joseph Vollbracht; a Confederate belt plate found at Nashville by John Amschler; a sword carried in the Revolutionary War by Major Robert Lusk, and a broad-blade knife picked up on the Custer battlefield and alleged to have been the property of Sitting Bull. Alongside of a Winchester repeater of late model, with birds eye maple stock and brass and nickel trimmings, is an old rusty musket carried by John Amschler over 8,800 miles during three years of the Civil War. The collection was made and the window arranged by Mr. Harnist, and is further evidence of his ingenuity and skill. The display is one before which the passerby must pause and spend some time.

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NATIONAL CEMETERY AT NORTH ALTON TO BE MEMORIAL

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, Thursday, June 1, 1899

A fund is to be raised by popular subscription in the South and at Alton for caring for the national cemetery at North Alton, where Confederate prisoners were buried during the war. Down in Texas, the ex-Confederates are already taking subscriptions of money and a number of Grand Army posts and Confederate societies have given money toward the fund for reclaiming the cemetery. Mr. William Catis says over $100 had been subscribed when he left home and when he returns, it will have reached much more. The plan is to build a neat fence about the cemetery where so many defenders of the lost cause lie buried, and to establish to the cemetery the government's claim. Any other squatter claim or pasture land claim will not be tolerated and the cemetery will be made into a place such as it should be. Alton people will be asked to contribute to the fund, and a committee to secure subscriptions has been appointed. Mr. C. A. Caldwell of the Alton National bank will be custodian of the fund. The committee appointed consists of William Armstrong, D. R. Sparks, P. J. Melling, H. J. Bowman, and Mrs. S. Demuth.

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HISTORY OF ALTON COUNCIL 41, UNION LEAGUE OF AMERICA

(Created to protect Alton and to aid in the Civil War effort)

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 18, 1902

Mr. H. G. McPike has in his possession the charter of Alton Council 41, of the Union League of America, organized in this city [Alton] on the 9th of February 1863. The organization was formed all over the State and the country for the purpose of offsetting the work of the Knights of the Golden Circle and Copperheads, and to assist the government in prosecuting the war. The following were the charter members:  J. H. Murphy, William Hayden, D. C. Martin, H. G. McPike, John Chaney, W. G. Pinckard, S. V. Crossman, John Atwood, J. W. Ash and John W. Hart. These were all prominent citizens and business men. Of the number, Mr. McPike is the only survivor. The writer was initiated into the League in the summer of 1863, when J. H. Murphy was President, and the hall was filled with Alton's most prominent men, all earnest with patriotism and willing to do and dare for the salvation of the Union. On several occasions, Col. Hildebrand, Commander of the Post of Alton, called upon the League for men to do picket duty on the outskirts of the city, to give warning of the threatened raids of Copperheads and Knights of the Golden Circle from Jersey county, who had formed plans to release Confederate prisoners, then in the old penitentiary. It was on one of these occasions that N. C. Travis, the leading foundry man of Alton at the time, was sent and contracted smallpox in some way, which proved fatal. There were several hundred members of the order which met weekly, first over Marsh's drugstore in the third story, and afterwards in the Ryder building on Second street. Mr. McPike also has a number of pieces of paper currency of ancient appearance. One on the bank of Hamilton, dated the 22nd of August, 1818; also on the Bank of Brookville, Indiana, for 50 cents, dated May 27, 1818; another for six shillings, issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, dated April 10, 1777. The note contains these words: "To counterfeit is death."

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MISUNDERSTANDING CLEARED UP REGARDING W. H. CATTS

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 3, 1903

An impression has been prevalent among our residents and even among Grandbury residents that Mr. W. H. Catts of Granbury, Texas was of Southern birth and an ex-confederate soldier. It is presumable that this impression grew out of Mr. Catts' efforts to bring about a better feeling between citizens of Alton and the people among whom he has lived so long in regard to decorating the graves of Confederate deadin Alton. Mr. Catts was born in Alton, was the son of S. B. Catts, one of Alton's most prominent business men and citizens in his day, and an active member and worker in the Methodist church of this city. Mr. Catts Jr. enlisted in April 1861 in a company of volunteers raised in Alton and vicinity, of which William Hubbell (father of the present William Hubbell) was Captain. Being unable to get into an Illinois regiment because the State's quota was full, this company went to St. Louis and enlisted in the Fourth Missouri Infantry (sometimes known as Schuttner's Dutchmen). They served three months in this regiment, or until the expiration of their term. They returned to Alton, re-enlisted and joined the Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and were known as Company D. This company was officered by Captain Sam Mason of Godfrey, Harry Scarritt of Alton, First Lieutenant, and William Gallion, also of Alton, Second Lieutenant. It served three years, re-enlisted as veterans in August in 1864 and served to the close of the war in 1865, and were mustered out of the service in Louisville, Ky. on the Fourth of July of that year, thus serving four years and three months in defense of their country.   No braver soldier than Mr. Catts was ever enlisted. He was only about sixteen years of age on his first enlistment. He is not only entitled to the thanks of all for services as a soldier in war, but for his efforts to bring about a better state of feeling among the survivors of that great and dreadful war, as well as among those who had nothing to do with it in active participation.

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MAJOR FRANKLIN MOORE PREPARING FOR ANNUAL CAMPFIRE AT HIS HOME - VETERANS OF CIVIL WAR WILL RECOUNT STORIES

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 15, 1903

Major Franklin Moore is making extensive preparations for is annual campfire at his home in Upper Alton, when the veterans of the Civil War will recount some of their old stories and both sides in the conflict will be represented and will be given a chance to tell how it all happened. Major Moore, who commanded the 2nd Illinois Cavalry, will telll how he chased Col. Farris of the 6th Tennessee with bloodhounds and finally caught him. Col. Farris, who is a St. Louis gentleman and very much alive, will tell how Major Moore took turns with him in running away. Jim Webster, an Alton man, will be called upon to tell how Major Moore captured him during the war, and how Jim tried to kill his captor but failed after discharging six shots at him. Major Moore now has the revolver that Jim Webster did the shooting with. Jim is very backward about telling his old adventures, but Major Moore is determined to have him on the ground and make him tell the story if he has to be hauled there in an ambulance. Other representatives of the Confederate side will be present, and some Union soldiers will be there to tell their stories too. The date is not definitely set, but Major Moore thinks it will be August 4 or 5.

 

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 21, 1903

The annual campfire entertainment will be given by Major Franklin Moore at his residence on College avenue, Upper Alton, Tuesday, August 4, 1903, at 7:30 p.m.  An interesting program will be rendered, consisting of speeches from the Blue and the Gray, L. C. Flanders, adjutant, and John G. Oulson, chairman. Program: Major Moore, Address of Welcome; Response by Chairman Oulson of Godfrey; Music, Shaking of the Dry Bones by the Wide Awake Glee Club of Upper Alton; Address by Col. James W. Farris (Confederate) of St. Louis; Address by Capt. Henry Brueggemann, Mayor of Alton; Vocal Music by the Glee Club of Upper Alton; Recitation by Miss Lou Hamilton of Wood River; Address by Miss Oulson of Godfrey; Musical selections, Col. James Pack of Alton; Speech by F. M. Johnson of Alton.  Bugle Calls:  Luther Taggart of Upper Alton; The Mountains at Hespidan, L. C. Flanders; Music by the Wide Awake Club; Fight mit Seigel, Fred Hammers of Alton; Speech by W. E. Smith of Upper Alton; Music by the Hoodoo band; Speech by Master Allan Atchison; Speech by Dr. H. R. Lemen of the Philippines; Music, Prof. Pack and Slifer; Speech, F. M. Cox of Upper Alton; Music by the Glee Club of Upper Alton.  Miscellaneous speeches and the fireworks will be conducted by Capt. James Webster of Alton, assisted by Jerry O'Keefe of New York. Refreshments will be served on the grounds.

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JAMES A. McREYNOLDS CLEARS HIS RECORD ..... DID NOT TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 4, 1904

James A. McReynolds, a well known resident of Upper Alton, has succeeded after many years in vindicating himself and proving that he did not voluntarily bear arms against the United States Government during the War of the Rebellion, prior to his enlistment as a Union soldier. McReynolds applied for a pension as a veteran of the 1st Arkansas U. S. Volunteers. When the war began he was working as mail carrier at a post office where his father was the Federal postmaster. Later on, the town was taken by the Confederates and the post office seized by them. It was insisted that he continue to carry mail in the Confederate service, and he did so under command of his father, McReynolds at the time being under age. Later he joined an Arkansas Union regiment and gave honorable service during his term of enlistment. When he applied for a pension the service as a Confederate mail carrier was set up by the Pension Commissioner as a reason why he should be rejected for a pension, on the ground that he bore arms against the United States Government. Mr. McReynolds has now, after many years of waiting, succeeded in setting himself right - that it was not his voluntary act when he carried Confederate mail, but that he was caused by his father to do so, and Commissioner Ware notified McReynolds to appear before the examining board, which he has done.

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TRIBULATIONS OF FREDERICK RECH - CLASSED AS A DESERTER, HE THOUGHT THE WAR WAS OVER WHEN LEE SURRENDERED

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 14, 1905

Fred Rech of North Alton, the aged and half blind painter whose wife died a few years ago, and who has time and again refused to go to the poor farm where he could be cared for, has sold his little home in North Alton to Weert Bauer of Alton, and will depart tomorrow night for New York City, and from there will go to Coblenz, Germany, probably to spend the remainder of his days. Rech has been trying for years to obtain a pension from the government, he having faithfully served the Union in the Civil War, but he is down in the records as a deserter his efforts to secure a pension failed on that account. Rech did not desert, and plenty of evidence on that point has been procured, it is stated. When Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Rech thought the war was over, as according to his idea and the opinion of others of his fellows, Lee was the entire Confederate army. After waiting several days to be mustered out, Rech concluded to muster himself out and came home. In this way he got himself into the deserter class and has suffered immensely since, because of his hurry to get home. Congressman Rodenberg in Congress, and Senator Cullom in the Senate, introduced a bill to give relief to Mr. Rech and remove the stigma of desertion (which the facts show to be undeserved) from his name and place that name in the list of honorably discharged soldiers who did their full duty in the war, but the pills were never pushed and the stigma remains. Congressman Rodenberg has agreed to introduce another bill this winter, and Mr. Rech has employed Alton attorneys to help get the matter before Congress for final action. In the meantime, he will go to Germany to remain with relatives until after Congress adjourns.

 

[NOTE: Rech did travel to Kirschberg, Germany in October 1905, acquiring money for the trip from his creditors, using his small home for collateral. In November 1905 The Telegraph printed an article stating Rech would be returning to the Alton area, as he found himself homesick for America, the place he had lived for over 50 years, and Germany was not the place he remembered. His wife, Louisa Rech, had died in November 1904. She had been a janitor in an Alton public school building. After the 1905 article on Rech, I never found mention of him again. I did not find out whether or not he returned to America, or where he died.]

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CALHOUN COUNTY FARMER GET MONEY BURIED BY HIS GRANDFATHER BEFORE CIVIL WAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 12, 1906

Several months ago the Telegraph told of the finding of $800 by John White of North Alton through the aid of a mineral rod, for a resident of Scott county in the vicinity of Winchester. Mr. White and his partner, William Herman, also of North Alton, have since that time located several small sums of hidden money, buried pieces of gold and silver, but not until a few days ago did they make any large find of lost treasure. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, many people in this and adjoining counties buried their money before going to war, or through fear that invading soldiers might loot their homes, and many of them died without letting the hiding places of the money be know. Some were killed and never returned from the war. In this latter class was a Calhoun county resident named John Grimes, who cast his fortune with the Confederacy and buried most of his ready money he had near the farm he had just sold in the vicinity of Kampsville. He had a daughter, a baby, whose mother had passed away in giving her birth, and this child Grimes left with a sister of his who was married to a man named Charles Walker. Grimes told his sister he had buried a couple of thousand dollars for safe keeping on the old farm, but did not tell her the exact spot. He never returned, and Mrs. Walker has since died. The little girl grew to womanhood and married, but before her aunt died she told the girl of the money buried by her father, and in fact a hunt for it had been made frequently. The Scott county man whose money was recovered by Mr. White is a friend of the husband of the Grimes girl, and told him about White and his divining rod, and the latter was finally induced to go to Calhoun county with the rod. He succeeded in locating the hiding place of the money in less than an hour after his arrival on the farm, he says. It was buried near a corner stone on the land and near a set of bars that has done duty as a gate ever since the farm was first settled. It was in an iron vessel known as an oven, and was much used in those days for baking biscuits and other bread instead of a stove. It had an iron lid, and this lid was placed over the oven and kept any dirt or other thing from getting into the money. Instead of $2,000 as Mr. Grimes had intimated that he had buried, only $1,500 was found. It was in gold, mostly, and while tarnished, some is all right. Besides the money there remains of a pocket testament and some scraps of paper, presumably the fragments of a letter or of a once valuable paper were found, all in bad condition. Time and the elements had worked damage to the iron oven also, but the gold is still intact. It is possible, the finders think, that some of the paper scraps may have once been money, and that the remaining $500 of the $2,000 thought to have been buried was in banknotes.

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TRIO OF ALTONIANS LEAVE FOR ALABAMA TO RECOVER TWO POTS OF GOLD BURIED DURING WAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 23, 1909

Two white men, Frank Brown and George Hinshaw, and a colored man, a former slave, now old and bent, named Vene Henderson, left Alton Wednesday for Alabama for the purpose of finding a couple of copper kettles filled with gold buried in or near a swamp during the rebellion by Henderson's master - a man named Henderson, and wealthy.  Henderson often told of the buried treasure, but no particular attention was paid to his story until Brown and Hinshaw heard it in detail. Henderson carried the two kettles from the plantation mansion during the war to the place where they were buried, and his master and the latter's son were with him. The Federal soldiers were crowding things about that time, and the money was buried for safety. The two masters of Henderson fled to the Confederate lines and were killed before the war closed. Henderson was taken by Union soldiers and brought north, where he has been since. He has lived in Alton for many years, but it was several years after the war before he learned of the death of his master, and it then dawned upon him that he is the only living person who knows of the location of the money. Brown, Hinshaw and John White began to sit up and take notice after Henderson told his story without variance, time after time, and finally he offered to take them to the place if they would pay expenses. They accepted the offer, and John White, of Cherry street, who claims to have located considerable buried treasure in this part of Illinois and in adjacent Missouri counties during the past five or six years with the help of divining rods, sent one of the latter along with the white men to expedite the finding of the money. Henderson, if the money is found, will be given a sufficient sum of it to keep him comfortable the balance of his life.

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CAPTAIN J. T. KING MAKES TRIP TO BATTLEFIELD WHERE HE SERVED DURING CIVIL WAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 28, 1909

Capt. J. T. King of Upper Alton writes the Telegraph that he is making a trip over the battlefields of the civil war, forty-six years after he was there, a young man, a soldier in the Union Army. He had long cherished a hope to make the trip, and now he is realizing his desire's fruition. The letter follows:

 

"A cherished wish of twenty years found its fruition when, July 25, 1909, forty-six years later, I started to visit some of the old battlefields of the Civil War. Daylight following found us 150 miles north of Nashville. The soil here is of a reddish clay, with out-cropping of stone and shale, making it unproductive of anything but scrum timber and tobacco. Sickly attempts to grow corn led one to wonder why people waste time in planting crops that will not grow. In the vicinity of Hopkinsville, Ky., the soil is somewhat improved. But what an Illinois farmer would characterize as barren is the condition of the land following the line of the L & N railroad from this point through to the mountains. At Hopkinsville the population apparently is largely black. The hogs we see grazing are of a reddish yellow, the color of the soil, and the kind that makes bacon, three streaks of lean and another of lean. At one town south of Hopkinsville not a white person was in sight. Taking it all in all the country is just the same as in 1863, when one of the boys in the regiment said, "I would not give a forty acre Ohio farm for a whole county down here." This was replied to by another who said, "I would not give a farm in Illinois for the whole country here."  The Confederate cemetery, eight miles north of Nashville, is a beautiful spot in the woods and appears well cared for. Outside of the towns the country has not improved since Civil War days. It is a God forsaken territory as regard agriculture, and one wonders why they do not raise sheep to eat the weeds. They cut cedars along the line for posts and poles that would be called culls in a first class country lumberyard. Many of the log cabins still exist. They are of logs, chinked with stone chimneys. At rare intervals a new cabin appears, built after the old fashion - two rooms and a drive way between. I failed to locate our camping ground along the line of the Nashville and Chattanooga, but I could again in imagination people those hills with Confederate cavalry, with ___oping carbines and whistling bullets, with an occasional shell from their artillery which kept us always on the alert as we pushed the Confederates back to Chattanooga. At Cowen's station, the road runs through the mountains. In 1863 we marched over it. The mountains here are very rugged and the Chattanooga campaign was a stupendous task. Forty-six years after I find myself wondering how it was accomplished. I can recall how the mountain roads were strewn with broken wagons and the wheels of artillery and caissons. And when the guns were brought to the front to take part in the fighting, they came on a full gallop, the guns bounding in the air and the gunners holding on to the rails for their lives. The air was sulphurous with the oaths of the wagon masters and the army mules had stars and stripes pictured on their sides with the blacksnakes of the drivers."   J. T. King

 

NOTE:

Captain James T. King was born in 1844 in Ft. Russell Township in Madison County. His mother died when he was 16, so he took a job in a Decatur book store to earn money. At the age of 18, he enlisted in Company F, 115th Illinois Infantry, going to Kentucky to oppose the Morgan raiders who were menacing the state of Ohio and causing terror. His unit was, for a time, with the Army of the Tennessee, and it was kept busy combating Confederate forces in Kentucky and Tennessee. He participated in the bloody battle of Chickamauga, and was part of the Granger reserves who made a 35 mile march to rescue General Thomas. King was wounded severely at Chattanooga, but was not disabled and did not leave the firing line. Later, while out with a foraging party, he and his party were ambushed and King was captured. He was taken prisoner and held in Libby, Danville, Andersonville, Charleston, and Richmond prisons. With three other soldiers, he made his escape from a moving train, but was recaptured. He was released on parole in 1864, weak and emaciated from his prison experience, but was nursed back to life in Union hospitals. Before he was sent back to the front, he came down with pneumonia, which disabled him until the close of the war.

After being released from the army, he engaged in farming and school teaching, and entered the mercantile business. He was in business in Colorado for a time, then returned to Illinois. For a number of years he was in charge of the local powerhouse at Sixth and Piasa Streets in Alton. He engaged in the mercantile business on College Avenue in Upper Alton in 1902, and retired in 1925, turning the business over to his granddaughter, Marjorie Dietiker. The Upper Alton Post Office was located in his building. He then left Alton to stay with his daughter in Denver, Colorado, Mrs. F. H. Gibson.

King was a strong patriot. In Alton he took a prominent part in public affairs, and was gifted with a talent for public speaking and writing. He contributed much to the authentic facts of the Civil War history. While in Alton he devoted much time to the improvement of the Upper Alton Oakwood Cemetery. He died September 2, 1934 in Denver, and his body was brought back to Alton and buried in the Oakwood Cemetery.

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80TH ILLINOIS REGIMENT MEETS IN REUNION IN ALTON TODAY - Some Old Comrades Had Not Met Since the War Closed

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 13, 1910

The reunion of the 80th Illinois regiment, which began today at the Madison hotel, was filled with many incidents that were pathetic. Men who had not seen each other since they were discharged from the army forty-five years ago, got together, shook hands, recounted their experiences and had a good time. Col. A. F. Rodgers, Irby Williams, J. S. Culp and E. K. Preuitt, who were the local committee in charge of the plan for the reunion, were in fine spirits. The attendance was good, perhaps not as good as they hoped for, but still considering the age of the old soldiers and their growing decrepitude, it was remarkable. There were some from long distances who had traveled to Alton to attend the gathering. H. M. Wagar of Ocean Grove, Cal., was on hand, and so was W. K. Carson of Colorado Springs, Colo., J. J. Lyons of Muskogee, Okla.  The veterans arrived at 12:45 o'clock on an interurban car from East St. Louis, and went to dinner at the Madison hotel. After dinner they went to view the Confederate cemetery at the North Side, and later were entertained at the Western Military Academy, a special car carrying them around. The Madison hotel where the events of the reunion are to take place was gaily decorated with flags and bunting. Capt. Fowler had done his best to make the hotel look as attractive as possible. An excellent dinner was served, and for this evening, when the campfire and banquet is held, a splendid menu will be served, such as will delight the old soldiers. H. M. Wagar of Ocean Grove, Cal., thought this noon he had lost a $500 badge given to him when he became past commander of Columbia post, G. A. R. of Chicago. Mr. Wagar had served as commander three years. He brought the badge with him. Before leaving he told his wife that if any one robbed him it would be necessary to kill him before he gave up the badge. The badge is of gold, with six fine diamonds in it. Great was Mr. Wagar's chagrin as he sat at the dining table this noon to discover that he had lost the badge. He knew he had it when he left the street car in front of the hotel. He thought the chance of recovering it was slim. Great was his joy when a short time after he discovered the loss, Paul Smith of Upper Alton, a member of the 80th Illinois association, brought it to him. Smith had found it at the foot of the stairs leading to the hotel.  Col. A. F. Rodgers exhibited two interesting relics which were made in Libby prison by Capt. T. W. Segar of Elsah, when the two officers of the regiment were in prison there.  Capt. Segar, who is an engraver, used the bones of beef served in Libby prison as the base of his work, and from the bones he carved two neat objects, a fork and a knife. The handles of the two implements were engraved with the words, "Libby Prison," "Capt. T. W. Segar" and "Col. A. F. Rodgers."  Capt. Segar had never seen the two implements since he made them nearly fifty years ago. The knife is broken and the blade missing, but the fork is intact.  Col. Rodgers this evening will exhibit the sword captured from him in 1863 when he was made a prisoner with half the regiment, and which was returned to him a few years ago by the brother of the man who captured it, after it had served for years as the tyler's sword in a Masonic lodge in Texas.  Col. Rodgers name and the Masonic square and compass were on the blade of the sword, which was responsible for the return of the trophy.  The sword had been given to the young lieutenant colonel when he left home by his mother.  The following is a roster of the veterans who are assembled at Alton today:

 

Col. A. F. Rodgers Capt. T. W. Segar, Elsah H. M. Wagar, Ocean Grove, Cal. S. W. Reynolds, Pickneyville G. D. Shaffer
J. B. Fenstermann W. H. Shaffer, Edwardsville L. Gvillo J. S. Culp Irby Williams
E. K. Preuitt Jasper Dillon Walter Thompson J. F. Thompson A. L. Hodge
T. N. Harris, Bethalto Capt. William Wright Philip Hebner Paul Smith, Upper Alton S. B. Hood
S. W. Patterson T. F. Alexander Archie Stewart James F. Hanson G. M. Reed
J. R. Alexander J. G. Crawford & wife, Sparta James M. Torrens, Oakdale, Ill. John Lyons, Muskogee, Okla. W. K. Carson, Colorado Springs, Colo.
J. H. Oliver, East Alton R. Linder, Alton T. McDonald, Ft. George N. P. Frost, Bunker Hill D. L. Stahl, Moro
Louis Ralph, Edinburg, Ill. J. H. Stahl, Dorsey Edward Weber, Godfrey N. A. Edwards, Jerseyville  

 

 

OLD SOLDIERS ENJOYED RIVER RIDE

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 14, 1910

When John I. Lyons of Muskogee, Oklahoma, one of the old soldiers who is attending the twenty-second annual reunion at the Madison hotel, heard that they were to be given a ride on the river, he was greatly elated. He said that he had not had a ride on the river since 1865. A little after ten o'clock this morning the veterans formed in front of the hotel and proceeded to the river front where the four yachts that were to take them a short distance up the river were waiting. The yachts whose owners so generously loaned them for the benefit of the old soldiers, were the "Sparks 2," owned by C. F. Sparks, the "Minnehaha," owned by H. M. Schweppe run by William Thorn and Ben Garde, the "Kiskiminitas," belonging to William King, and the "Guzzle," belonging to H. L. Black. The old soldiers just comfortably filled the last three, and the ladies went aboard the Sparks 2. They were gone until twelve o'clock, taking the party up the river far enough to give them a nice sight seeing trip. The day was ideal, and the veterans enjoyed themselves immensely.

 

OLD, BUT WANTED TO WALK

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 14, 1910

Capt. William Wright, who is one of the four Mexican war survivors in Madison county, tried to do his part in walking with the old soldiers of his regiment, the 80th, yesterday afternoon. He scorned to ride, insisting that he walk, but he was unable to complete the walk with the boys. Today he enjoyed a yacht ride. Capt. Wright is far past ninety years of age, and while his physical strength is no longer great, his will is as strong as ever.

 

OLD SOLDIERS HOLD CAMPFIRE - MAKE THEIR FAREWELLS

Reunion of Veterans is Devoid of Powder Smoke, and is Dampened by Tears at Last Meeting

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 14, 1910

When the members of the 80th Illinois volunteer infantry association held their campfire last evening at the Madison hotel, following a delightful banquet, there was very little powder burned, mighty little of anything that could be remotely construed as boasting. The talk around the banquet board was largely in the nature of a farewell, such as brings tears to the eyes. It was a modest bunch of heroes, who had little to say of deeds of valor, confessing when called on for speeches that they could think of little, and then would wind up with some little touch of sentiment. There was no fighting of battles over, no professional old soldierism about it. Anyone could see that the men of the 80th and the men of the 22nd had been somewhere when brave deeds were done because they had so little to say about them.  H. M. Wagar of Ocean Grove, Cal., served as toastmaster, and between the speeches on the program the Philharmonic trio sang musical selections. Mr. Wagar made an ideal presiding officer.  Rev. H. M. Chittenden, who was named as brevet chaplain of the regimental union, made the address of welcome to the visitors, Capt. Hood of Sparta was the opening speaker on the program and represented the 22nd Illinois. He paid a tribute to Co. B., which went from Alton under Capt. John Seaton. In closing, he expressed his appreciation of the patriotic medley which had been played, and particularly was he glad to hear Dixie.  Capt. Hood said that early in the war the Union bands played the tune. Later, this remark was to call forth from Mr. Wagar the opposite expression of sentiments.  Col. Rodgers was called upon for a talk, and he modestly disclaimed the credit that was given him for valor, and he laid the credit to the men behind the guns. He told of his failing eyesight, and how he did not expect to see another reunion, as he feared his sight would be completely gone by that time, but he expressed the purpose of attending the next reunion, if he had to be led by the hand.  Capt. John R. Cunningham, who was said to be the man who had kept live the annual reunions, made a brief talk, and was followed by Clay Medill, who was introduced as the "monkey" of the 80th. He told some funny stories. Lieut. Tom Alexander told how the 80th happened to be captured and become known as the "orphan"regiment, since few of its officers were ever returned to it from prison.  J. J. Lyons was the last speaker on the program, except the toastmaster.  The closing address by the toastmaster, Mr. Wagar, was a pathetic thing.  Mr. Wagar told of his _,000 mile, 7-day journey necessary that he might be with his old comrades, and said this would probably be the last time. This brought up the subjust of farewell, and he launched into a beautiful speech in which he told of future reunions and of the lessening ranks at each one. Dramatically he began to call the roll of some of the valiant dead who had been loved by their fellow soldiers, and addressing each by name, talked as if the dead had come to attend the campfire. It made tears come to the eyes of many an old soldier, and likewise to those who had never smelled a battle. It was in the course of this speech that Mr. Wagar took issue with Capt. Hood, and declared that the tune of Dixie made cold chills run down his back, and that to him every note of the piece fairly breathed and smelled of treason.  Today the old soldiers took a boat ride in yachts furnished by C. F. Sparks, H. L. Black, H. M. Schweppe and Capt. W. H. King. On their return about noon they had dinner, and this afternoon attended the Lyric theater. The association of the 80th and the 22nd Illinois regiments elected the following officers at a second campfire in the hotel, which kept them up until 2 o'clock in the morning: J. R. Cunningham of Dix, Ill, president; J. W. Caldwell of Sparta, vice-president; J. R. Alexander of Sparta, adjutant.  Sparta will be next meeting place. It was said that there were 45 of the 80th at the meeting and 13 of the 22nd. The names of all were taken down. The attendance was the largest of any reunion in six years, as the attendance has been steadily declining for a number of years. The Alton meeting was a complete success, and the visitors expressed themselves as being very grateful for all the courtesies shown them, especially by their hosts, and the Alton business men, the owners of yachts, and the management of the Madison hotel. Just before adjourning to the music of Auld Lang Syne, the following resolutions were adopted by the members of the different regiments:

 

Madison Hotel, Alton, Ill., October 14.  Resolved that the sincere thanks of the 80th and 22nd Illinois Vet. Association be hereby extended to the city of Alton, The Alton Retail Merchants Association, the Western Military Academy, the Hotel Madison, and all others who so kindly and generously contributed to our welfare, entertainment and pleasure, and we also extend our grateful thanks to the committee, Col. Rodgers, Comrades Culp and Williams.  J. R. Cunningham, President. J. R. Alexander, Sec'y.

 

Alton, Ill., October 12, 1910.  At a meeting of Comrades of the 22nd Illinois Vol. Infantry this evening, it was voted unanimously to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Comrades and ladies of Alton for their splendid entertainment at the reunion of the 22nd and 80th Illinois Vol. Infantry, and that a copy be furnished to the Alton papers.  F. J. Wisemen, Chairman.  S. W. Reynolds, Secretary.

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Source: Albany, New York Evening Journal, December 11, 1911

E. A. Jack, First Lieutenant of engineers, retired, of the revenue cutter service, and one of the few survivors of the crew of the Merrimac in its famous Civil War battle with the Monitor in Hampton Roads, died at Alton, Ill. today, according to word received here. He was (71?) [hard to read] years old, and a native of Portsmouth, Va.

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WILLARD C. FLAGG HOME SERVES AS HAVEN FOR ALL UNION SYMPATHIZERS WORKING NORTH

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 23, 1912

Representative Norman G. Flagg came into Alton this week to call upon Mrs. Elizabeth Clarkson of 210 East Second street, and hear from her lips a remarkable story of how Mr. Flagg's parents kindly sheltered Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson in war times, when they were, they believed, in the land of the rebels. Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson were residing in Missouri, and the depredations of the guerilla bands became unbearable, and they started for Illinois in a prairie schooner. They crossed the Mississippi river down at St. Louis, and started up the state road into the Illinois prairie, believing they would come to the homes of northern sympathizers. Mrs. Clarkson recited to Mr. Flagg how after they had driven quite a time on the state road, they could see in the distance a flag flying from a flag pole of a residence, and it was a Union flag. The team of one ox and a cow was turned into the barnyard of the farm place, and a man and woman came out and greeted Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson and invited them to come in. Their hosts were Mr. and Mrs. Willard C. Flagg, both now deceased, parents of the present representative, and the house they stopped at was on the site of the residence Mr. Flagg now resides with his family. Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson were given a log cabin on the Flagg place, and remained there for some time, later coming to Alton, where Mrs. Clarkson has resided ever since. The story of Mrs. Clarkson's trip had never reached the ears of Mr. Flagg until lately, and he immediately came in to see Mrs. Clarkson and hear the story from her own lips, which he heard this week. Mrs. Clarkson has never been back to the Flagg farm since that time, and will go to the scene of her wartime experience this summer when the weather permits. She does not believe she can ever see a house that looked better to her than that one did over fifty years ago, especially with that Union flag fluttering from its gable. Mrs. Clarkson stated she found after she stopped at the Flagg home that the home was a haven for all Union sympathizers working north, and that the flag was a signal to drive in, that friends were inside, and that many took advantage of the invitation.

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OLD SOLDIER (RICHARD LINDER) SHOWS PAROLE PAPERS - RECALLS HARDSHIPS OF WAR OF THE REBELLION

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 9, 1912

Richard Linder, who lives at No. 1000 McKinley avenue, has in his possession the parole paper given him in 1865 by Confederate officers at Belle Island in front of Richmond, Va., when he and his companions in Gen. Strait's brigade were paroled. Mr. Linder was a member of Col. A. F. Rodgers' regiment, and the Colonel and his men were taken prisoners in February 1865 in Alabama, about 30 miles from Rome, Ga.  They were moved around from prison to prison, and finally landed at Belle Isle. They were in prison about three months, and suffered all of the privations and rough usage accorded generally to prisoners at that time. After they subscribed to the parole, they were sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, and afterwards to St. Louis, and it was about two months after the paroles were signed that the conditions were complied with and fighting could have been resumed under the terms. Below is a copy of the parole. It is dated Rome, Ga., May 4th, 1865, and was sworn and subscribed to by Mr. Linder, before A. W. Caldwell, the Colonel commanding that post, and G. H. Snyder, an adjutant and justice of the peace:

 

"I, Richard Linder, private of Co. K, 80th Ill., Reg., Infantry, of the United States Army, captured by Brigadier General Forrest, solemnly swear before Almighty God, the Sovereign Judge, that I will not bear arms against the Confederate State government, or help, aid or assist, either directly or indirectly, any person or persons in making war against them, until regularly exchanged as a prisoner of war, and that I will not at any time communicate to any person information received within the Confederate lines detrimental to the same."

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EXHIBITING RELIC OF CIVIL WAR

Source: Alton Telegraph, May 15, 1913

L. J. Hartman today put on display in the Schweppe Company [Alton] windows in the Third street store, a section of a tree trunk belonging to Senator Beall, which was cut on the battle field of Chickamauga. The tree trunk is filled with balls and pieces of shells. Senator Beall has had it many years, and he has consented to allow it to be exhibited during the G. A. R. Encampment.

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STORY OF DR. O. P. S. PLUMMER, AND THE MOVE OF ARMS FROM THE ST. LOUIS ARSENAL TO ALTON DURING THE CIVIL WAR

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 26, 1913

The Telegraph has received a copy of the Portland Oregonian from J. B. Thomas, formerly of Alton. It contains an article which is a verbatim report of an address given at the funeral of Dr. O. P. S. Plummer, formerly of Alton, telegraph operator for the Chicago and Alton in 1861, when the steamer "City of Alton" brought the arms here from the Arsenal at St. Louis. The article will be read with interest by many Alton people, so the Telegraph republishes it in full. Rev. C. S. Cline, who conducted the funeral services, read the following:

 

When the Civil War came in 1861, the United States Government had had an arsenal in the southern part of St. Louis on the Mississippi River. It contained about 30,000 Harper's Ferry muskets, 1,000 rifles, some cannon of little value, and a large amount of ammunition and other army stores. It was the policy of the seceding states to seize the arsenals everywhere, with all their contents. The struggle, therefore, for the arsenal at St. Louis began early. Each side saw that whoever held the arsenal would hold the city, and whoever held the city would hold Missouri. Not only so, but the United States Sub-treasury was in St. Louis, and contained $400,000 in gold, a big amount of money at that time. The city was tossed and torn with fear and doubt. That the disloyal were making a mighty effort to get control of the arsenal, custom-house, post office and sub treasury, was plain. After the firing on Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861, the struggle in this direction was intensified. The secessionists, embrazoned by the fall of Fort Sumter, openly declared: "come what may, we'll take the arsenal." The other side said: "We'll defend it."

 

Captain Nathaniel Lyon, in command of the arsenal without adequate force for its defense, was cool and clear-headed. He saw intuitively the dangers by which he and his little command were beset. April 16, he sent a messenger to Governor Dick Yates of Illinois, that it might be a good plan for him to make a requisition on the arsenal for a big supply of arms to equip troops than gathering in Springfield under Mr. Lincoln's first call for 75,000 three-months volunteers. Governor Yates (God bless his memory) quicker than a flash caught on, and made a requisition without waiting for the red-tape formalities of the War Department at Washington authorizing the same. Getting the arms out of the arsenal was the next problem, a problem both difficult and dangerous. Secession spies were swarming about the arsenal with a battery planted by them on the hill above it. As the arsenal could not be defended by the force in it, no time was to be lost in the getting the gun, ammunition and other stores away. Governor Yates summoned to his aid a man named Stokes, who had been a captain in the Regular Army. Stokes was the right man in the right place. To accomplish his purpose, Stokes dropped down the river to Alton, 25 miles on the river above St. Louis, where he first investigated the telegraph operator, through whose hands messages between Stokes and Governor Yates must pass. In putting some decoy secession question to the young operator, he (Stokes) came near being ejected from the office. The young fellow would not stand for it. After satisfying himself that the operator was all right, Stokes proceeded to charter a big river steamer lying at the dock known as the "City of Alton," instructing the captain to wait with steam up for a visit from the telegraph operator of the place. He then arranged with the latter to deliver in person such word as he might transmit from the arsenal at St. Louis to Captain Mitchell.

 

In plain clothes Stokes then dropped down to the arsenal 25 miles below, which he found surrounded with a perfect jam of sullen, secessionists. For some time he was unable to get through the throng, but by good nature and patience he succeeded in elbowing his way through, handing Capt. Lyon a confidential note from Governor Yates. He then wired the young operator at Alton to have the boat proceed silently down to the arsenal by midnight. This was done, and the big steamer pushed her nose into the bank at the arsenal at 11 p.m. Every available man in and about the arsenal, aiding the boat's crew, quickly began moving the boxes of muskets, sending first some old Mexican War flint-locks up the bank, as if things were being moved that way. These were worthless old guns, were seized by the secessionists, who made the air ring with their shouts. A few suspicious characters, however, remained watching the steamer at the bank. These Captain Lyon arrested and locked up. In an incredibly short time, 20,000 muskets, 500 new carbines, 100,000 musket cartridges, with a vast amount of army equipment, were on board the steamer. When they attempted to push her off, her prow was fast in the mud. "Move the boxes aft," said the captain of the steamer. This was done, and she floated out on deep water. "Which way?" called the captain. "Up the river to Alton," said Stokes. "What if the rebel battery on the shore fires on us?" "Get away if you can, and if you can't escape, run her out to the deepest place and sink her!"  "I'll do it," said Mitchell, "to a dot, if I go down with her."

 

The big steamer plowed through the water, past the rebel battery, with everybody asleep onshore. At five o'clock in the morning, the steamer reached Alton dock, where Stokes was met by the young telegraph operator, the two running to the market house where the fire bell was rung ferociously, causing the people to pour out of bed by hundreds, some of them half dressed, to see what was up. "There is no fire," said Stokes, but at the landing is that steamboat you all know, loaded with arms we are getting from the arsenal at St. Louis to Springfield, and we are afraid the secessionists from St. Louis will follow and be on us before we get her unloaded. We want every one of you to help us."  With a shout, men, women, and even the children, laid hold with a will, the enthusiasm running higher and higher, and by 7 o'clock - two brief hours - that immense steamer load of arms and war material was safely locked in the cars of the Chicago and Alton railroad. The bell rang, the whistle sounded, the engine coughed and tugged up the steep grade out of Alton, and the train was off for Springfield. In the meantime, the wires had been kept hot all night by the operator in Alton, receiving from the arsenal and transmitting to Springfield information of events as they transpired.

 

Time works wonderful changes. It was in this same Alton where Lovejoy, fighting against human slavery and for the freedom of the press, poured out his blood, and on the very same spot where the eager citizens that morning, with a cheer and shout, hurried forward the arms to be used in the abolishing slavery in the awful conflict, into which we were rapidly drifting. And out of that lot of arms my regiment, the first that went from Illinois, was speedily equipped. That night's work decided the destiny of the Government arsenal, the City of St. Louis, and the State of Missouri, and one of the men whose intelligence and capabilities contributed to that national result, was the young telegraph operator at Alton - O. P. S. Plummer. Two days after the events just described, the Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, to which I belonged, dropped down from Springfield, going into camp at Alton, where we were visited by Mr. Plummer, an aristocratic, dressy-looking fellow, with a characteristic grin on his face, as he shook hands with us all around. The regiment gave three rousing cheers to the operator, who helped us to secure the arms we carried and which we later used at Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg.

 

On account of his loyalty and skill, Mr. Plummer was transferred to Cairo, Ill., at the juncture of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and the end of the Illinois Central railroad, at the time the most important military point of operations in the west. From this point he transmitted reports of the engagements alluded to above, and down the river. These historic facts concerning our late honored citizen, Dr. O. P. S. Plummer, Hon. Levi W. Myers, my old friend, who was associated with Mr. Plummer at Cairo, but now residing in Portland, can affirm.

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WEERT BAUER OF ALTON SEES CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG IN SPRINGFIELD HIS UNIT CAPTURED IN 1865

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 10, 1917

Last Friday, Weert Bauer of Alton, a member of the 97th regiment Illinois Volunteers, took a look at a Confederate battle flag which his regiment captured April 9, 1865 at Fort Blakely, near Mobile. It was the first time Mr. Bauer had seen the flag since his regiment took it fifty-two years before. The 97th regiment was selected to lead the assault on Ft. Blakely. That morning Gen. Lee had surrendered, but the fact was not known by the 97th regiment for two days. In the meantime, an unnecessary battle had been fought after the surrender. The 97th lost 80 men in storming the fort. Mr. Bauer was one man who crawled through a port hole of the fort as the gunners inside were loading their cannon to fire it. The cannon was never fired by the Confederates. It is said that the flag the 97th took is the only Confederate flag that was captured by an Illinois regiment alone. Mr. Bauer took a number of Alton people who were in Springfield last Friday, to see the flag and he rehearsed to them the story of the part the 97th Regiment had in the last battle of the Civil War. In this fight were a number of other Alton men, including H. J. Johnston, who was promoted to Sergeant Major, but never received a commission, as the war was over.

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SHELL OF CIVIL WAR DAYS IS FOUND

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 29, 1918

A shot-shell evidently fired by one of the armies in Civil War days, found its way to the Duncan foundry last week, and was discovered in time to prevent it working damage in the blast furnace, on the way to which it was when discovered. The shell is deeply pitted with rust and shows every evidence of being an old timer, even to the shot which was enclosed within the iron case. The shell is about 6 inches in diameter. It was shipped with a carload of scrap iron from Paducah, Ky., to Rubenstein Brothers at Alton, and by them the car was sold to the Duncans. It was while the scrap iron was being transferred from the car to the blast furnace that a man noticed the ball and examining it closer he discovered that if it ever had any meanness incased within it, evidently everything was still there, as the cap was still on the shell. This caused Howard Gray to have the shell drilled out and inside of it he found 173 grape shot, all imbedded in rosin. The method of making the shell was evidently to fill it with rosin and grape shot, imbedding the shot in the rosin. Then a sufficient boring was made in this mass to make a chamber for an exploding charge. When the shell was bored out the black powder taken therefrom was burned to test out if it was still active, and apparently it was still good. Just what damage would have been done by the shell to the blast furnace had it exploded when a heat was on is a matter of speculation. The results might have been appalling had the furnace, filled with molten metal, been wrecked by the explosion of the old time shell. It is probable that the shell was made fifty-five years ago, or thereabouts, and that for many years it has been rolling around in obscure places until picked up and thrown into the car of scrap iron which was being shipped to Alton to help make iron articles to win the war of modern days. Civil War veterans, who looked at the shell, recalled having seen many such objects fifty years or more ago. They were regarded as being the last word in deadliness then, but today they would be of little if any value as life destroyers in a war such as has just closed in Europe. The shell was being exhibited today at the Crivello store on Piasa street.

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59 YEARS AGO TODAY, COLONEL PACK WAS "KILLED"

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 10, 1920

Fifty-nine years ago today - August 10th, 1861 - Colonel James Patrick Pack, politician, former Sherlock Holmes and Police Officer, Fiddler (the best ever), G. A. R. and Good Feller, was killed by the Rebels at Wilson Creek, Mo. That is he was supposed to have been killed, a Rebel bullet having knocked him over the fence at that fight. He says he was not knocked unconscious; in fact, was conscious enough to know that the best thing for him to do after being shot down was to remain on the ground and do a lot of possumming. He did that for some time, while Rebel Cavalrymen were riding over and around him. Finally the bullets began landing in his neighborhood a little too freely to suit him, and he crawled and wiggled and wormed himself along until he thought it was safe to stand up. The bullet that struck him in the face and knocked him down was kind enough to strike below the eyes so that the blood, which was flowing freely, did not blind him, and he struck out running. "I was in a cow path," he says, "and going some when I noticed a scared deer in front of me and going the same direction. I overtook that deer and as it was going too slow to suit me, and as I needed the path, I reached over and shoved the animal out of my way and sped on." He is not sure whether he ran all of the 12 miles from Wilson Creek to Springfield, but he thinks he did. He was given surgical and medical attention at Springfield, and afterwards rejoined his regiment which had retreated from Wilson Creek to Rolla, Mo. He says that as far as he knows, J. H. Hurst of Venice and himself are the only survivors of one company in the Wilson Creek fight. The Colonel, for a man who was killed 59 year ago, is mighty lively and optimistic, and has every prospect of making a century run of life.

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OLD CIVIL WAR SOLDIER NEAR DEATH - CARLOS COLBY WAS GIVEN CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FOR HEROIC CONDUCT

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 17, 1922

The Telegraph has received a copy of the Peoria Transcript which contains an account of the serious condition of Carlos W. Colby, a blind soldier of the Civil War, formerly of Alton. He passed his birthday and is still in a bad way, but the danger is not believed to be immediate. The transcript said in part:

 

"Death threatens Carlos W. Colby on this, his eighty-eighth birthday today. A veteran of the Civil War, who besides winning the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest recognition of bravery the United States gives, is an interesting character chiefly of his grit and tenacity under great adversities.  Mr. Colby lies ill at the home of his son, Charles Colby, 1209 Deciman Avenue.  A great desire to live until his birthday buoyed up his failing strength, so he has achieved his wish, but it is not believed he can keep up the fight much longer. He has been ill for six weeks. The Congressional Medal of Honor is only awarded for volunteer acts of heroism. The medal was given to Mr. Colby because he was one of a party, which on May 22, 1863 at the siege of Vicksburg, lay under the Confederate forts throughout a day in order to protect an unexpected advance of the main party. Mr. Colby was invited by the government to be one of the guard last Armistice Day, at the funeral of the unknown soldier at Washington. On account of ill health, he was unable to accept the invitation. For 11 years he has been blind, but he never let that destroy his courage or cheerfulness. He learned typewriting and how to weave rattan work baskets in order to occupy his time. On the typewriter, he wrote a full account of his experiences in the war. He made 140 of the work baskets, which it was his delight to give to friends. In was in the Battle of Fort Blokely, Alabama, at the end of the war, that he was shot through one leg below the knee. The loss of his sight is attributed to this injury. He enlisted in Company G, Ninety-Seventh Illinois Infantry in August 1862. He was discharged from service in July 1865. During his enlistment, he rose from a private to First Sergeant.  After being mustered out of the army, he returned to North Alton and lived there until 1883. Then he moved to a farm near Buckley. In 1900 he retired from farming and came here. Besides his son Charles, he has a son, Henry, living at Waterloo, Iowa, a daughter, Faye, 1209 Dechmor Avenue, and another daughter, Mrs. W. H. Fish of Fort Worth, Texas."

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THE STORY OF WASHINGTON H. BOYD, JAMES SQUIRE, AND OTHERS/Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 28, 1923

The passing of Washington H. Boyd, who died in Godfrey on Christmas Day, is made the occasion of a letter from Dr. James Squire of Carrollton, an old Godfrey boy. Dr. Squire was a schoolmate of Boyd, and they went into the army together during the Civil War. Boyd's father helped build Monticello Seminary. Boyd and Dr. Squire always went to Grand Army encampments together. Dr. Squire calls attention to the fact that Mr. Boyd named his son, William, for Col. William R. Morrison of the regiment in which he served, the 49th Illinois. Dr. Squire said in his letter: "Washington H. Boyd, who died Christmas Day at his home in Godfrey, was the first Civil War soldier to enlist 'for the duration of the war.' He enlisted with his neighbor boy, Lieut. James Maguire, and me, in Company F of the 49th Illinois, under Col. William R. Morrison. Boyd was flag sergeant of the regiment, and carried the regimental flag. That regiment was first in the battle at Fort Donelson. Next they were in the battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862. Both Boyd and Maguire were wounded, each in the left leg, at the same time. Maguire was sent to Cincinnati and placed in a hospital. After being there a few days he was told that they would amputate the leg. Inquiring whether he could go back in the service minus a leg, he was told he could not, and he refused then to have the amputation done, saying he would rather die. He did die a few days later from gangrene. He was the first Civil War soldier from Godfrey to die. He was a fine looking Irish boy, a son of Patrick Maguire. Sergeant Boyd was sent from Shiloh to St. Louis, placed in a hospital and a few days later, with his shattered leg still unattended, he came on to his home in Godfrey. He was in bed four months, pieces of bone and the bullet coming out. His son, Will Boyd, has the bullet. After five months he returned to the service and served clear through the war. He suffered all through life from the wound in his leg. Yet he lived to be 84 years of age. Those two Godfrey boys were brave heroes. Boyd carried the regimental flag in many battles thereafter. Over 140 men enlisted from Godfrey. No draft was needed, as our quota was full. Only four of them are left there now - Frank Boyd, a brother of Washington Boyd, John Ulrich, Ed Webber and William Hynrman."

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Source:  Utica, New York Observer, June 30, 1935

McPike's [Smallpox] Island Cut Away in Mississippi River Work - A Mississippi River island which once was shown as a dueling ground for Abraham Lincoln and later was the cemetery for Confederate victims who died of smallpox while in the military prison at Alton during the Civil War, is being removed piecemeal from the Missouri shore of the river to provide as base of operations for the federal government's work on a dam across the river at Alton. About 40,000 cubic feet of earth has already been removed from the piece of ground. It is no longer an island in reality, having been joined to the Missouri mainland by the action of river currents. The earth is being removed from a point about 200 yards from the dam. When Lincoln was supposed to have gone there for a duel, the land was known as McPike's Island. It was chosen as the site of a duel between Lincoln, then a country lawyer, and James Shields, brigadier of the Mexican War. Shields challenged Lincoln after the latter wrote an article which offended him. Tradition has it that Lincoln, given the choice of weapons, picked Calvary broadswords, a selection which his challenger did not particularly favor. The day of the duel, Lincoln "warmed up" by by slicing off a small willow tree with his immense weapon, at which Shields burst out laughing. Before they returned to the Illinois shore, their quarrel was made up, without the duel having been fought. During the Civil War, its use as a cemetery followed an outbreak of smallpox at the prison camp at Alton, where numerous Confederate soldiers were confined. After that episode, it was known as Smallpox Island. The dam now under construction by the government is one of many being built along the length of the river to control the effects of river currents and aid navigation.

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Read the story of Colonel A. F. Rogers, of Upper Alton, Madison County, IL, and how he lost his sword in a Civil War battle, and found it again 43 years later.

 

 

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Copyright Bev Bauser.  All rights reserved.