Illinois in the Civil War

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Illinois in the American Civil War

Illinois and the Civil War (1861-1865)

Illinois (1861-1865), part 1

Illinois in 1860 had become the fourth state in the Union in
population and wealth, and her advance in power and influence
in the councils of the nation had been no less extraordinary than
her local progress, no voice being more potent than that of the
Prairie State in shaping the governmental policy and directing
the course of empire. Each of the two great political parties
at the North had selected its standard-bearer in the presidential
campaign from the confines of this western commonwealth,
and her electoral vote was one of the prizes so strenuously con-
tested for in the canvass that followed the nominations. Al-
though in speaking of the country in general there were candi-
dates representing other phases of political opinion, in Illinois
they were but side issues and the great contest was between the
Republicans, and the Democracy as represented by Stephen A.
Douglas. And the contest in Illinois was really a continuation
and in some respects a repetition of the campaign of 1858, with
the same candidates in different relations. Douglas, the suc-
cessful aspirant in the senatorial race of two years previous, was
now the candidate of the Northern wing of the Democracy for
the presidency, while Lincoln, who had then been defeated for
senator, was brought to the front against the "Little Giant"
and made the candidate of the united Republicans of the entire
country for the higher office of president. No presidential
campaign had ever aroused the intense interest of the people
of the state as did this one; but only second in importance to
it, in the minds of the citizens, was the gubernatorial canvass.
Richard Yates for the Republicans and James C. Allen for the
Democrats were the opposing candidates for the gubernatorial
honors, and the campaign they waged was not only exceedingly
brilliant, but was also the most exciting that the people of the
state had experienced in many years. The result of the ballot-
ing showed a fair majority for Mr. Yates, and the general assem-
bly which was elected at the same time and which convened on
Jan. 7, 1861, was Republican in both branches — by 1 majority
in the senate and 7 in the house.

The day following the convening of the legislature the retiring 
governor, John Wood, delivered a message to the law-making
body in which he used the following language in regard to the
national difficulties then existing: "If grievances to any portion
of our Confederation have arisen within the Union, let them be
redressed within the Union. If unconstitutional laws, trench-
ing upon the guaranteed rights of any of our sister states, have
found place upon our statute books, let them be removed. If
prejudice and alienation towards any of our fellow-countrymen
have fastened upon our minds, let them be dismissed and for-
gotten. Let us be just to ourselves and each other, allowing
neither threats to drive us from what we deem to be our duty,
nor pride of opinion prevent us from correcting wherein we may
have erred." He recommended that, if Illinois had passed
any laws tending to obstruct the operation of Federal authority
or conflicting with the constitutional rights of others, they should
at once be repealed. Speaking not merely for himself, but
reflecting what he assumed to be the voice of the whole people
of Illinois, irrespective of party, as it reached him from all quar-
ters, he adopted the sentiment of President Jackson, "The
Federal Union: it must be preserved;" to which sentiment, he
trusted, the legislature would give emphatic expression at an
early day.

The new governor was inaugurated in the presence of both
houses of the general assembly, Jan. 14, 1861, and the inaugural
message was mainly devoted to a discussion of the all-absorbing
theme of the day. Gov. Yates defended the following propo-
sitions: First — That obedience to the constitution and laws must
be insisted upon and enforced as necessary to the existence of
government; Second — That the election of a chief magistrate
of the nation, in strict conformity with the constitution, was not
sufficient cause for the release of any state from any of its obli-
gations to the Union. These questions were exhaustively con-
sidered in the ablest and most scholarly state-paper that had
ever been submitted to an Illinois legislature. He argued that
the valley of the Mississippi must forever remain an undivided
territory under one governmental jurisdiction; and, with keen
insight into the future, predicted that as a result of the crisis
through which the country was then passing, the Union would
be preserved and the nation honored throughout the civilized
world as "one of intelligence and freedom, of justice, industry
and religion, science and art, stronger and more glorious, more
renowned, and free, than ever before."

The action of the people in the South in regard to secession
naturally called forth public expressions of views in the Northern
states. Conventions were held in several of these, all looking
toward a peaceable solution of the difficult political problem 
presented; one of which was a Democratic state-convention held
at Springfield, Jan. 16, attended by 500 delegates. Resolutions
were adopted counseling compromise and conciliation, and
declaring that any effort to coerce the seceding states would
plunge the country into civil war; denying the right of secession;
and proposing a national convention to amend the constitution,
so as to produce harmony and fraternity throughout the Union.

On February 2 the senate committee on Federal relations
reported a series of resolutions, requesting the governor to
appoint five commissioners to attend the Peace Conference to
be held at Washington on the 4th of that month, declaring that
this appointment was not intended as an expression of opinion
in favor of any change in the Federal Constitution as requisite
to secure to the slaveholding states adequate guarantees of their
rights, nor as an approval of the basis of settlement proposed
by Virginia, but simply as an expression of their willingness to
unite with that state in an earnest effort to adjust the present
unhappy controversy in the spirit in which the Constitution was
formed. They further avowed their belief that the appropriate
and constitutional method of considering and acting upon the
grievances complained of by the slaveholding states was by the
call of a convention for the amendment of the Constitution as
contemplated by the fifth article of that instrument. The
resolutions passed by a vote of 13 to 10, and the following com-
missioners from Illinois were appointed: Stephen T. Logan, John
M. Palmer, John Wood, Burton C. Cook, and Thomas J. Turner.

Fort Sumter was fired upon, April 12, 1861, was compelled
to surrender on the 14th, and on Monday morning, April 15,
the president issued his proclamation calling for 75,000 volun-
teers to subdue "combinations too powerful to be suppressed
by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, and to cause the
laws to be duly executed." Immediately upon the receipt of
the president's proclamation, Gov. Yates convened a special
session of the legislature, the call being as follows:

"I, Richard Yates, governor of the state of Illinois, by virtue
of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, hereby con-
vene the legislature of said state, and the members of the twenty-
second session of the general assembly are hereby required to
be and appear in their respective places, at the capitol, in the
city of Springfield, on Tuesday the 23d day of April, A. D. 1861,
for the purpose of enacting such laws and adopting such measures
as may be deemed necessary upon the following subject, to wit:
The more perfect organization and equipment of the militia
of this state, and placing the same on the best footing to render
efficient assistance to the general government in preserving the
Union, enforcing the laws, and protecting the property and
rights of the people; also, the raising of such money and other
means as may be required to carry out the foregoing object,
and also to provide for the expenses of such session.
"In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and have
caused the great seal of the state to be hereunto fixed at the
city of Springfield, this 15th day of April, 1861."

On the same day, a dispatch having been received from the
secretary of war stating the quota of Illinois under the president's
call, the governor issued his call for "six regiments of militia,"
and in less than a day forty companies were officially reported
as ready and anxious for service. Up to April 20 sixty-one
companies had been positively accepted, and eight others con-
ditionally, so that the complement of Illinois was then exceeded.

There was a union of sentiment among all parties as remark-
able as it was gratifying. Leading Democratic journals came
out in condemnation of the secession movement and in favor
of sustaining the government. Stephen A. Douglas was among
the first to call upon President Lincoln and tender him his cor-
dial sympathy and support. Arriving in Springfield during
the session of the legislature, he was invited to address that
body in joint session. Complying with the request, he gave
forth no uncertain sound, and in his masterly presentation of
the issue surpassed all his former efforts in the "eloquence of
his unanswerable logic and irresistible appeals to the people to
be loyal to the country." He said:

"For the first time since the adoption of the Federal Constitu-
tion, a wide-spread conspiracy exists to overthrow the best
government the sun of heaven ever shone upon. An invading
army is marching upon Washington. The boast has gone
forth from the secretary of war of the so-called Confederate
States, that by the first of May the rebel army will be in posses-
sion of the national capital, and, by the first of July, its head-
quarters will be in old Independence Hall.
"The only question for us is, whether we shall wait supinely
for the invaders, or rush, as one man, to the defense of that we
hold most dear. Piratical flags are afloat on the ocean, under
pretended letters of marque. Our great river has been closed
to the commerce of the Northwest. * * * So long as hope
remained of peace, I plead and implored for compromise. Now,
that all else has failed, there is but one course left, and that is to
rally, as one man, under the flag of Washington, Jefferson,
Hamilton, Madison and Franklin. At what time since the gov-
ernment was organized, have the constitutional rights of the
South been more secure than now? For the first time since
the Constitution was adopted, there is no legal restriction against
the spread of slavery in the territories. When was the Fugitive
Slave Law more faithfully executed? What single act has been
done to justify this mad attempt to overthrow the republic?
We are told that because a certain party has carried a presiden-
tial election, therefore the South chose to consider their liberties
insecure! I had supposed it was a fundamental principle of
American institutions, that the will of the majority, constitu-
tionally expressed, should govern! (Applause.) If a defeat
at the ballot-box is to justify rebellion, the future history of
the United States may be read in the past history of Mexico.
* * * It is a prodigious crime against the freedom of the
world, to attempt to blot the United States out of the map of
Christendom. * * * How long do you think it will be ere
the guillotine is in operation? Allow me to say to my former
political enemies, you will not be true to your country if you seek
to make political capital out of these disasters (applause); and
to my old friends, you will be false and unworthy of your prin-
ciples if you allow political defeat to convert you into traitors
to your national land. (Prolonged applause.) The shortest way
now to peace is the most stupendous and unanimous preparations
for war. (Storms of applause.")

"Gentlemen, it is our duty to defend our Constitution and
protect our flag."

This was the last and greatest of the senator's forensic efforts
at the capital, and coming from one so well known and justly
honored in all the states, was worth more to the cause of the
Union in the call to arms than such words from any other living
man; and in his sudden death at this critical and momentous
juncture, the cause of the Union sustained a loss greater than
that which followed any mere reverse of arms.

On April 19, the secretary of war telegraphed Gov. Yates to
take possession of Cairo as an important strategic point. At
this time there were but few existing military organizations in
the state, chiefly independent companies in the larger cities.
The most available commanding officer was Brig.-Gen. Richard
Kellogg Swift of Chicago, who was ordered by the governor to
proceed to Cairo as speedily as possible with such force as he
could raise. On April 21 that officer, with commendable de-
spatch, was on his way to the supposed danger point with seven
companies, numbering 595 men, armed and equipped.

The first company of volunteers tendered in response to the
governor's call on April 16, was the Zouave Grays of Springfield,
Capt. John Cook, and on the same day companies were tendered
by Richard J. Oglesby from Macon county; Benjamin M. Pren-
tiss, Adams county; Wilford D. Wyatt, Logan county; George
W. Rives, Edgar county, two companies; John Lynch, Rich-
land county; by Gustavus Koerner, five companies from St.
Clair;'and before night of the i8th, fifty companies had been
tendered. The legislature convened pursuant to call on April
23, and on the 25th Gov. Yates sent to it a message in explana-
tion of his having taken military possession of Cairo and garri-
soned it with Federal troops. He said in this message:

"The transfer of part of the volunteer forces of the state to
the city of Cairo was made in compliance with an order from
the war department, directing a force to be stationed at Cairo.
Simultaneously with the receipt of the order, reliable informa-
tion reached me of the existence of a conspiracy of disaffected
persons in other states to seize upon Cairo and the southern
portion of the Illinois Central railroad, and cut off communica-
tion with the interior of the state. It was my desire that the
honor of this service should have been given to the patriotic
citizens of the counties in the immediate vicinity, but as these
were not at that time organized and armed for patriotic duty,
and the necessity for speedy action was imperative, the requisi-
tion was filled from companies previously tendered from other
portions of the state."

At this extra session, the amount appropriated for war pur-
poses was $3,500,000. Of this sum $1,000,000 was to organize
and equip ten regiments called out by the state, $500,000 was
appropriated to furnish arms for the state and to build a powder
magazine, and $2,000,000 for general purposes of state defense
and national aid. The entire militia of the state, consisting of
all the able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 years,
was to be immediately organized. A bill defining and punishing
treason to the state was passed. The telegraph was put under
restraint and measures taken to prevent its rendering aid to
opponents of the government, and every thing was done that
was deemed necessary "to place the state in a condition to sup-
press insurrection, repel invasion, and render prompt assistance
to the United States government."

Among those who found their way to Springfield at this time,
says John Moses, Gov. Yates' private secretary, in his admirable
work on "Illinois — Historical and Statistical," was Capt. U. S.
Grant, late of the regular army. He came from Galena, bring-
ing with him a letter of introduction and commendation from
Hon. E. B. Washbume. Maj., afterward Col. Thomas P. Robb
of the governor's staff, having observed Grant waiting with
other strangers in the governor's anteroom, apparently for an
interview, and learning from him that he was desirous of offering
his services to the state, introduced him to his excellency. Robb
was impressed with the modest deportment of the visitor, and
when the governor made the routine reply to Grant's offer that
he knew of no opening just then, that every place was filled.
and appealed to Robb to confirm his statement, the latter replied
that he believed they were short of help in the adjutant-general's
office; and proposed that Grant should be given a desk there
for the time being. The governor readily consented and Grant
was accordingly set at work arranging, filing and copying papers.
One morning a few days afterward Gov. Yates informed Maj.
Robb that the services of a regular-army officer had become
indispensable in the camps of rendezvous to perfect organiza-
tions and keep down insubordination and ordered him to proceed
to Cincinnati to procure the services of a captain of the regular
army then there, Capt. John Pope, who had been stationed at
Camp Yates, having been ordered to St. Louis. To this order
Capt. Grant, who had quietly entered the room, was a listener.
He reminded the governor of his military training and former
experience in the army, which seemed to have been overlooked,
and suggested that he could be made much more useful in the
service than in occupying a subordinate clerical position. Yates
replied, "Why, Captain, you are just the man we want!" And
on that day Grant was installed as commandant of Camp Yates.
He remained in the state service, discharging camp duties and
mustering in regiments at various points, from May 8 to June
26. When the question arose as to who should succeed Col.
S. S. Goode — temporarily in command of the 21st regiment,
under whom the men refused to muster for the three years'
service on account of his alleged bad habits — several names
were considered for the position. Capt. Grant had been sent
to Mattoon to muster in the regiment and had made so favorable
an impression upon the officers and men, that several of the for-
mer had written letters to the governor requesting his appoint-
ment. Still, other names were canvassed. Finally "Uncle
Jesse"— as auditor of state Dubois was familiarly called — who
had an extensive acquaintance in the state, and whose judgment
of men and things could be relied upon with the greatest cer-
tainty of its correctness, remarked at the conference: "This
regiment was raised in my old district, I know its situation and
the boys who compose it. The man to place at its head in my
opinion, as well as in that of its officers, is U. S. Grant." There
was no further hesitation; the appointment was made; Grant
took command on June 16, and the remainder of his military
career is an important part of the history of the war.

Early in May Col. and ex-Gov. John Wood was appointed
state quartermaster-general, and Col. John Williams, an old
and honored business man of Springfield, commissary-general.
The newly-created department of army auditors was organized
as follows: commissioners, James H. Woodworth, president;
Charles H. Lanphier and William Thomas; George Judd, secre-
tary. Since the Black-Hawk war the office of adjutant-general
had lapsed into a state of disuse. It had been in existence
without apparent excuse, the people being so absorbed in ordi-
nary pursuits as to have neither time nor inclination for culti-
vating the martial spirit. Thomas S. Mather had been appointed
to the office by Gov. Bissell in 1858 and had developed a decided
fondness and marked aptitude for the organization of military
companies. He took a just pride in awakening the military
enthusiasm among young men of his acquaintance in Spring-
field and other large towns. As early as February he had been
sent by the governor on a confidential mission to Gen. Scott at
Washington, for the purpose of procuring arms for the state,
and had succeeded in obtaining an order on the St. Louis arsenal
for 10,000 muskets. The demand for these guns was not made
at the time, owing to the grave doubts of those in authority of
their being able to execute it in the then disturbed condition of
public sentiment in St. Louis. In April Capt. James H. Stokes
of Chicago, on hearing of the difficulty, volunteered to obtain
the arms at all hazards. Having received from Gov. Yates the
necessary authority, he was admitted into the arsenal, and al-
though informed by the commandant that the secessionists,
who were on the watch, would not permit him to remove them,
he had the arms boxed ready for shipment. On the night of April
25 he caused the steamer City of Alton to be brought to the
arsenal wharf, and before daylight steamed up the river for
Alton with 10,000 muskets, 500 new rifle-carbines, 500 revolvers,
besides some cannon and cartridges. It was a daringly planned
and successfully executed expedition — the first of the war in
the West — and gave to Illinois the arms she so much needed
and which, if not transferred at the time, might possibly have
been seized by the Confederates a few days thereafter.

John B. Wyman was appointed first assistant adjutant-gen-
eral, April 19, and on going to the field as colonel of the 13th in-
fantry, he was succeeded by John S. Loomis, who had been act-
ing as second assistant. Daniel L. Gold was appointed second
assistant, Aug. 17. Charles H. Adams, afterward lieutenant-
colonel of the 1st artillery; Joseph H. Tucker, afterward colonel
of the 69th infantry; John James Richards of Chicago; and
Edward P. Niles, acted at different times as assistant adjutant-

The six regiments apportioned to Illinois under the first call
for volunteers were raised, organized and sent to Cairo during
the latter part of April and early part of May. "In token of
respect to the six Illinois regiments in Mexico;" their designated
numbers were to begin with seven and end with twelve, and
they were to be known as the "first brigade Illinois volunteers."
Gen. Benjamin' M. Prentiss was elected brigadier-general over
Capt. Pope, and was placed in command at Cairo, relieving
Gen. Swift. These six regiments were at first mustered in for
only three months, but at the expiration of their term of service,
2,000 out of the 4,680 volunteers reenlisted, were reorganized,
and remustered for three years. These first regiments were
commanded respectively by Cols. John Cook, Richard J. Ogles-
by, Eleazer A. Paine, James D. Morgan, Wm. H. L. Wallace,
and John McArthur.

Under the second call of the president the ten regiments, one
from each Congressional district, for whose formation provision
had already been made at the special session of the legislature,
were organized from two hundred companies immediately
tendered, and were mustered into service within 60 days. (See
Record of the Regiments.)

The large number of volunteers in excess of what could be
received in Illinois, enlisted in Missouri and other states, a
sufficient number in some instances to constitute a majority
of their respective companies and regiments, and which were
subsequently changed into Illinois regiments, namely, the 9th
Mo. to the 59th Ill., and Birge's sharpshooters to the 66th Ill.
In May, June and July, seventeen additional infantry and five
cavalry regiments were authorized by the secretary of war,
and were speedily raised and organized. The following batter-
ies were also organized and mustered in July: Capts. Charles
M. Willard's, Ezra Taylor's, Charles Houghtaling's, Edward
McAllister's, Peter Davidson's, Riley Madison's, and Caleb

On July 22, the day after the first battle of Bull Run, the
president issued a call for 500,000 troops. On the following
day Gov. Yates responded by tendering thirteen additional
infantry regiments, three of cavalry, and a battalion of artillery,
most of them now ready to rendezvous, and stating that "Illi-
nois demands the right to do her full share in the work of pre-
serving our glorious Union from the assaults of high-handed
rebellion." This tender was at once accepted, and under it
the 29th to 32nd, inclusive, the 38th, 43d, 46th, 48th, 49th and
50th infantry, and the 3d, 6th and 7th cavalry were organized.

The governor was indefatigable in his efforts to provide for
the army which Illinois was raising to aid in the maintenance
of the Federal government. On Aug. 17 he issued a proclama-
tion to the people of Illinois, stating that he had obtained per-
mission from the secretary of war to accept all companies that
offered themselves for the three years' service, and announcing
that all companies which should report themselves fully organ-
ized within twenty days from that date would be received; that
orders for the transportation, sustenance and equipment of
troops had already been given, and that both equipments and
arms of the best quality would be furnished at the earliest pos-
sible moment. The proclamation was eloquent and replete
with patriotic feeling and it awakened a hearty response in the
hearts of the people of the state. The companies reported much
faster than they could be armed and equipped, and on Nov. 21
it was stated by authority that the state had 53,000 troops in
the field or ready for marching orders, of whom six regiments
and two independent squadrons were cavalry. This was 8,600
more than her quota. The number was subsequently largely
increased and on Jan. 1, 1862, her force in actual service consid-
erably exceeded 60,000.

In the meantime a change was effected in the office of adju-
tant-general. Col. Mather had for some time signified his
desire to go into active service, and he retired from the office
on Nov. 11. He was appointed colonel of the 2nd regiment of
artillery, commissioned Feb. 2, 1862, and served through the
war, being mustered out as a brevet brigadier-general in 1865.
At the time of his retirement from the adjutant-general's office,
Gen. Allen C. Fuller was urged to accept the responsible position,
even if only temporarily. He acceded to the request and en-
tered upon the arduous and complicated duties of the post with
marked industry and energy, and with a zeal born only of loyalty
— working for months at a time 16 hours a day.

The expenses incurred by the state during the year 1861 in
preparation for the war were nearly $5,000,000, of which the
United States government would refund about $3,400,000,
besides the tax of Aug., 1861, which was assumed by the state,
and which would amount to about $1,700,000.

Late in the year, in accordance with a vote of the legislature,
an election was held for delegates to a convention to revise the
constitution, 75 members being elected, of whom 45 were Demo-
crats, 21 Republicans, 7 were classed as fusionists, and 2 were
doubtful. The convention met in Springfield Jan. 7, 1862, and
continued in session nearly three months. It was organized
by the election of William A. Hacker as president, William M.
Springer as secretary, John W. Merritt as assistant-secretary,
and John Schell as sergeant-at-arms. The leading Democratic
members were William J. Allen, ex-Gov. French, J. B. Under-
wood, S.A. Buckmaster, Timothy R.Young, Anthony Thornton,
H. M. Vandeever, John M. Woodson, Melville W. Fuller, Albert
G. Burr, O. B. Ficklin, B. S. Edwards, Alexander Starne, A. A.
Glenn, J. W. Singleton, Austin Brooks, Lewis W. Ross, John
Dement, Julius Manning, H. K. S. Omelveny, A. D. Duff, N. H.
Purple, Thomas W. McNeeley and John P. Richmond. Among
the leading Republicans were John Wentworth, Elliott Anthony,
A. J. Joslyn, George W. Pleasants, Alexander Campbell, Elisha
P. Ferry, Luther W. Lawrence, S. B. Stinson, H. B. Childs,
and W. W. Orme. The proposed new constitution, as it was
later submitted to the people of the state for their approval or
rejection, contained a number of provisions that are mentioned
herein for the reason that they had to do with questions that
were in close relation to the war. The term of the office of gov-
ernor was limited to two years instead of four, and soldiers in
the field were allowed to vote. The proposed constitution for-
bade any negro or mulatto to migrate to or settle in the state after
its adoption. It provided that no negro or mulatto should have
the right of suffrage or hold any office in the state. It also con-
tained the following addition to the Bill of Rights:

"Sec. 30. The people of this State have the exclusive right
of governing themselves, as a free, sovereign, and independent
state, and do, and forever shall, enjoy and exercise every power
pertaining thereto, which is not, and may not hereafter be, by
them, expressly delegated to the United States of America, or
prohibited to the state by the Constitution of the United States."

This expressed very clearly the views of the American people
on the important question of State Rights, but, to avoid even
the slightest misunderstanding, the convention also inserted
this section immediately after the preceding:

"Sec. 31. That the people of this state regard the Union of
the states, under the Federal Constitution, as permanent and
indissoluble, from which no state has a constitutional right to
withdraw or secede."

These two sections embodied the principle and clearly defined
the distinction between the State and the Federal governments,
the preservation of which has justified the beautiful expression
in regard to this system that the States, under the Federal gov-
ernment, are, "distinct as the billows, yet one as the sea." In
relation to negroes the constitution of the state had for some
years contained the following provision:

"Art. 14. The General Assembly shall at its first session under
the amended constitution pass such laws as will effectually pro-
hibit free persons of color from immigrating to and settling in
this state, and to effectually prevent the owners of slaves from
bringing them to this state for the purpose of setting them free."

The proposed constitution was submitted to the electors of
the state in June for their approval or rejection, and some of
its provisions were also submitted separately. The result of
the vote of the people was as follows:

For the new constitution, 125,050; against the new constitu-
tion, 141,113; for the exclusion from the state of negroes and 
mulattoes, 171,896; against the exclusion of negroes and mul-
attoes, 71,306; against granting the right of suffrage or office to
negroes or mulattoes, 211,920; in favor of granting such rights
to negroes, etc., 35,649; for the enactment of laws to prevent
negroes and mulattoes from going to and voting in the state,
198,938; against the enactment of such laws, 44,414.
Thus, while some of the provisions of the new constitution
received a majority of the votes cast and were thereby approved,
the instrument entire was rejected.

On July 6 another call was made for 300,000 additional vol-
unteers, but the people were despondent and enlistments were
at first slow and half-hearted. Gov. Yates felt that the time
had come for the nation to avail itself of the services of colored
men and slaves and believed that by offering this class proper
inducements a strong diversion against the rebellion would be
made in the slave states. On July 11 he despatched an open
letter to the president, urging him to summon all men to the
defense of the government, loyalty alone being the dividing
line between the nation and its foes. His closing words were:
"In any event, Illinois will respond to your call; but adopt this
policy, and she will spring like a flaming giant into the fight."

On Aug. 5, such were the supposed necessities of the govern-
ment, a call was issued for 300,000 men to serve for nine months,
any deficiency in response to which was to be filled through a
draft. The quota of Illinois on these two calls was 52,296, but
as she had already furnished 16,198 men in excess of former
quotas, the claim was made that the total would only be 35,320.
This claim, however, was not allowed by the government, and
the full number was insisted upon. The state was given until
Sept. I to raise this number of men and thus avoid a draft. The
floating population had already been swept into the army; the
new levies, therefore, must come from another class — the per-
manent, influential and prosperous citizens. The country was
aroused as never before. Throughout the state meetings were
held, which were addressed by the governor and others. The
patriotic furor was as intense as it was contagious, all classes
being affected and moved as by a common impulse. So spon-
taneous was the response to the president's calls that before
eleven days had elapsed both quotas had been more than filled
— a rally to the country's standard as remarkable as it was
unexampled in the world's history. Six of the new regiments
organized were sent to the field in August, twenty-two in Sep-
tember, thirteen in October, fifteen in November, and three
in December, making an aggregate, with artillery, of fifty-nine
regiments and four batteries, numbering 53,819 enlisted men
and officers. In addition to the above, 2,753 men were enlisted 
and sent to old regiments. With these and the cavalry regi-
ments organized, the whole number of enlistments under the
two calls was 68,416, making a grand total of 135,440 volunteers
in the field at the close of the year 1862.

For the purpose of consulting in regard to the general good
and agreeing upon measures to be recommended for adoption,
a meeting of the governors of the loyal states was called by the
executives of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, to meet
at Altoona, Pa., Sept. 24. Gov. Yates was accompanied by
state-officers Dubois and Hatch, Private-Secretary Moses and
Gen. McClernand. There were also present, Andrew G. Curtin
of Pennsylvania; David Tod of Ohio; Francis H. Pierpont of
West Virginia; John A. Andrew of Massachusetts; Austin Blair
of Michigan; Samuel J. Kirkwood of Iowa; Edward Salomon of
Wisconsin; Augustus W. Bradford of Maryland; Nathaniel S.
Berry of New Hampshire; and William Sprague of Rhode Island.
The conference was held with closed doors and the discussions
of the grave questions — conducted with the earnestness befitting
the occasion — covered a wide field, as was understood at the
time, but no report of the proceedings was ever made public.
The distinguished party arrived in Washington on Sept. 26 and
were received by the president at twelve o'clock. The confer-
ence was strictly private, the only person present not a member
being the private secretary of Gov. Yates. The result of the
conference was decidedly beneficial to the country. The gov-
ernors returned to their states with reassured hope, with con-
victions of the righteousness of the national cause intensified,
and with reestablished confidence in the judgment and wisdom
of the president and his cabinet.

The only movement of importance in political affairs during
1862 related to the choice of members of Congress and of the
state legislature at an election held on Oct. 14. As usual, the
questions of national politics formed the issue of the election,
and the respective parties, of which there were two, held their
conventions, nominated their candidates, and made their dec-
larations of principles. As it is important only to show the
chief points of national interest upon which the two parties were
divided at this election, reference is here made to the resolu-
tions relating to the war adopted by each convention. The
Democratic state convention was held Sept. 10, over forty coun-
ties being unrepresented. The first resolution in the platform
adopted placed the Democracy squarely in favor of the war,
and was as follows: "Resolved, that the constitution and laws
made in pursuance thereof, are and must remain the supreme
law of the land; and as such must be preserved and maintained
in their proper and rightful supremacy; that the rebellion now 
in arms must be suppressed; and it is the duty of all good citi-
zens to aid the general government in all legal and constitutional
measures, necessary and proper to the accomplishment of this
end." This was the position of war Democrats. The second
resolution denounced "the doctrines of Southern and Northern
extremists as alike inconsistent with the Federal Constitution."
In advance of the issuance of the proclamation of emancipation
it was declared that "we protest in the name of ourselves and of
our children, and in the name of all we hold dear, against the
resolution of Congress pledging the nation to pay for all negroes
which way be emancipated by authority of any Southern states;"
and that it was the duty of all good citizens to sustain the presi-
dent against the purpose of the radical Republicans, to induce
him to "pervert the effort to suppress a wicked rebellion into
a war for the emancipation of slaves, and for the overthrow of
the Constitution." They also declared against the entrance of
free negroes into the state; against the illegal arrest of citizens;
and all unjust interference with the freedom of speech and of
the press.

The Republican convention assembled at Springfield, on Sept.
24, and in its declaration of principles, the following resolutions
appeared in relation to war issues:

"Whereas, the government of the United States is now engaged
in the suppression of a rebellion, the most causeless that has
ever occurred in the history of nations; and whereas the success-
ful and immediate suppression of the same demands the united
and hearty co-operation of all loyal citizens, we, therefore, the
Union men of the State of Illinois, do proclaim the following
as the basis of our action:

"Resolved, That we acknowledge but two divisions of the people
of the United States in this crisis — those who are loyal to its
Constitution, and are ready to make every sacrifice for the integ-
rity of the Union and the maintenance of civil liberty within it,
and those who openly or covertly endeavor to sever our country
or to yield to the insolent demands of its enemies — that we
fraternize with the former and detest the latter; and that, for-
getting all our former party names and distinctions, we call
upon all our patriotic citizens to rally for one undivided country,
one flag, one destiny.

"Resolved, That the preservation of constitutional liberty,
the integrity of American soil, and the memories of three-fourths
of a century of peace and prosperity, such as before were never
exhibited in the world's history, demand the prosecution of this
war to whatever extent it may be necessary, or at whatever
sacrifice may be required.

"Resolved, That we cordially endorse the proclamation of 
freedom and confiscation of the president, issued Sept. 22, 1862,
as a great and imperative war measure, essential to the salva-
tion of the Union; and we hereby pledge all truly loyal citizens
to sustain him in its complete and faithful enforcement.
"Resolved, That all laws now in force, passed for the purpose
of crippling the latent resources of the rebellion, by confiscating
the property of rebels, meet the hearty concurrence of this con-
vention; and we shall hold all officers, both civil and military,
responsible for a strict and vigorous enforcement of the same.

"Resolved, That the maintenance of the government and the
preservation of national unity are the great end and purpose
of the present war, and to accomplish these the rights of person
and property in all sections of the country should be subordinate.

"Resolved, That we admire and heartily commend the patri-
otic and efficient aid rendered by loyal Democrats to the present
administration, while we deprecate the course of political leaders,
representing party organization, in finding fault with the ad-
ministration in the prosecution of the war, while they studiously
avoid being harsh toward the conspirators of the South who
are now attempting to sweep down the last vestige of constitu-
tional liberty.

"Resolved, That, while we are in favor of a system of direct
taxation to any extent necessary to suppress the rebellion, main-
tain the public credit, and pay the interest on the national debt,
we are, nevertheless, in favor of such modifications of the present
law as may be found necessary to make it equitable in its oper-

"Resolved, That the governor of this state, in his zealous and
efficient labors to bring into the field the full quota of Illinois
troops, and in the effort he has made to provide our soldiers
with things necessary for their comfort, when sick and wounded,
deserves and should receive the commendation and gratitude
of the entire people of the State of Illinois.

"Resolved, That the volunteers of this state who have so patri-
otically perilled their lives in the defence of our common country
are entitled to the lasting gratitude of the people, and we hail
with special delight their noble heroism exhibited on every
battlefield from the Potomac to the Kansas."

The preliminary proclamation of emancipation was not fa-
vorably received by the country generally, and many strong
friends of the Union in Illinois regretted the step the president
had taken, some thinking he had not gone far enough and others
that he had acted prematurely. The issuance of the proclama-
tion afforded opportunity for a large and influential faction to
crystallize and concentrate their hostility to the administration
and to the prosecution of the war. While their opposition had 
previously been confined to a criticism of the civil administration,
including appointments, they eagerly seized upon this avowal
of the president's policy and made it the occasion for speaking
more plainly and positively, alleging that the war was being
waged for the subjugation of the South and the abolition of
slavery, and demanding that it should cease. Repugnance to
a threatened draft, the continued and increasing depreciation
of the state currency, the low wages paid the soldiers, the presi-
dent's proposition of compensated emancipation, the uncer-
tainty of the final outcome of the war, were reasons urged at
the October election in Illinois with much plausibility and de-
cided effect against the party in power. The result was all that
the opposition could have wished. The Republican vote was
120,116; the Democratic vote was 136,662; a Democratic major-
ity of 16,546.

The revolution of the ballot in Illinois was complete. The
Democrats not only elected their state officers, but they also
secured 11 of the 14 members of Congress, and carried the legis-
lature by a majority of 1 in the senate and 28 in the house.

The number of regiments sent by the state into the service
of the United States to the close of 1862, was 130 of infantry,
sixteen of cavalry, and two regiments and seven batteries of
artillery, the state having promptly furnished the troops called
for by the Federal government without any drafting.

The general assembly convened on Jan. 5, 1863. Samuel A.
Buckmaster of Madison county was elected speaker of the house,
and his remarks on taking the chair sounded the keynote of the
proceedings to follow. Among other things, he said: "I trust
that you will feel it your duty to enter the solemn protest of the
people of Illinois against the impolicy and imbecility which,
after such heroic and long-continued sacrifices, still leaves this
unholy rebellion not only not subdued, but without any imme-
diate prospect of termination, and I trust that your action may
have a potent influence in restoring to our distracted country
the peace and union of by-gone days."

On the evening of the day the legislature convened a large
and enthusiastic meeting of those opposed to the administration
was held in the hall of the house for the purpose of hearing from
the several Democratic candidates for the United States senate.
A resolution was unanimously adopted declaring "That the
emancipation proclamation of the president is as unwarrant-
able in military as in civil law, a gigantic usurpation, at once
converting the war, professedly commenced by the administra-
tion for the vindication of the authority of the constitution, into
the crusade of the sudden, unconditional, and violent liberation
of 3,000,000 of negro slaves; a result which would not only be
a total subversion of the Federal Union, but a revolution in the
social organization of the Southern states. * * * The proc-
lamation invites servile insurrection as an element in this eman-
cipation crusade, a means of warfare, the inhumanity and dia-
bolism of which are without example in civilized warfare, and
which we denounce, and which the civilized world will denounce,,
as an ineffaceable disgrace to the American name."

Gov. Yates, in his message delivered on the next day, made
a full report of the part taken by Illinois in the war, including
provision made for the sick and wounded and amounts expended
therefor. He also discussed the overshadowing issues of the
war, insisting upon the patriotic duty of every citizen to stand
by the government to the last. He justified the attitude of
the administration by the following arguments: "After years
of deliberate premeditation and secret preparation, they (the
states in rebellion) perpetrated the act of secession, denied their
allegiance to the constitution, set up an independent government^
despoiled the nation of its money, its arms and munitions of
war, seized upon our forts, insulted our flag, fired upon our sol-
diers at Sumter, plunged our hitherto peaceful people into a
sanguinary, fratricidal war, filled every homestead with grief,
and covered the land with 200,000 fresh-made graves." He
defended the proclamation of emancipation, expressing views
in advance even of those of the president. He said, "but now
the necessity of emancipation is forced upon us by the inevitable
events of the war and is made constitutional by the act of the
rebels themselves; and the only road out of this war is by blows
aimed at the heart of the rebellion, in the entire demolition of
the evil which is the cause of all our present fearful complica-
tions. * * * The rebellion, which was designed to perpetuate
slavery and plant it upon an enduring basis, is now, under a
righteous providence, being made the instrument to destroy
it. * * * I demand the removal of slavery. In the name
of my country, whose peace it has disturbed, and which it has
plunged into civil war; in the name of the heroes it has slain; in
the name of justice, whose highest tribunals it has corrupted
and prostituted to its basest ends and purposes; in the name of
Washington and Jefferson, and all the old patriots who struggled
round about the camps of liberty, and who looked forward to
its early extinction; in the name of progress, civilization and
liberty; and in the name of God Himself, I demand the utter
and entire demolition of this heaven-cursed wrong of human
bondage." Continuing, he said: "The secessionists have hoped
for success on three grounds: First, upon our supposed inferior
valor; second, upon foreign aid; and third, upon a divided North.
The two first have failed them. They now despair of any for-
eign intervention and on many battle fields the cool bravery
of our northern troops has proved an overmatch for the fiery,
impetuous valor of the South. But can I truthfully say that
their strongest hope and main reliance, a divided North, has
failed them?" Proceeding to amplify this danger, he remarked:
"When the North shall present an undivided front— a stem
and unfaltering purpose to exhaust every available means to
suppress the rebellion, then the last strong prop of the latter
will have fallen from under it and it will succumb and be for
peace. Should division mark our counsels, or any considerable
portion of our people give signs of hesitation, then a shout of
exultation will go up throughout all the hosts of rebellion, and
bonfires and illuminations be kindled in every southern city,
hailing our divisions as the sure harbingers of their success.
Can we," he continued, "consent to send a keen and fatal pang
to the heart of every Illinois soldier, now fighting for his country,
by ill-timed party-strife at home?" Speaking of the appeals
which were made in some newspapers for a separation from
New England, he said, "Not a drop of New England blood
courses in my veins. * * * propose not to be the eulogist
of New England, but she is indissolubly bound to us by all the
bright memories of the past, by all the glory of the present, by
all our hopes of the future. I shall always glory in the fact
that I belong to a republic in the galaxy of whose shining stars
New England's is among the brightest and best. Palsied be the
hand that would sever the ties which bind the East and West."
Several resolutions on the subject of the rebellion were pre-
sented to the legislature on Feb. 4 and 5. The preamble to
these resolutions, after denouncing the suspension of the writ
of habeas corpus and the arrest of citizens not subject to military
law, declared that "The attempted enforcement of compensated
emancipation, the proposed taxation of the laboring white man
to purchase the freedom and secure the elevation of the negro;
the transportation of negroes into the state of Illinois in defiance
of the repeatedly expressed will of the people; the arrest and
imprisonment of the representatives of a free and sovereign
state; the dismemberment of the state of Virginia, erecting
within her boundaries a new state, without the consent of her
legislature, are, each and all, arbitrary and unconstitutional,
a usurpation of the legislative functions and a suspension of
the judicial departments of the state and federal governments,
subverting the constitution — state and federal — invading the
reserved rights of the people and the sovereignty of the states,
and, if sanctioned, destructive of the Union; establishing upon
the common ruins of the liberties of the people and the sover-
eignty of the state a consolidated military despotism."

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Source: The Union Army, vol. 3


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