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July, 1862 – Patriotism Takes a Stand

July is a month to show our love of country. The Fourth of July brings out the red, white and blue in everyone. On July 1, 1862 Abraham Lincoln called for the ultimate patriotic gesture; the citizens of Will County responded to the call; they volunteered to go to war.

George Woodruff writing about Will County’s response, in his book Will County in the Civil War writes, “In response, we first hear that A. N. Waterman is authorized to raise a company. Next, Mr. Munger follows, and opens an office with Justice Heath, in the old clerk’s office, on the corner of the public square. Thomas Hayes, Dan. O’Connor, J. G. Elwood, Dr. Kelly, H. B. Goddard, and ex-sheriff Bartlett, quickly follow.”

“Soon, too, we hear that Dr. Bacon and J. S. McDonald, of Lockport; Albert H. Amsden, of Dupage; McLaughry, of Homer ; Burrell, of Plainfield; Gardner and Bowen, of Wilmington, with others assisting them, are all actively engaged in raising companies. Patriotic men mostly young men, flock to their standards.”

“A special meeting of the Board of Supervisors is again called, and our city papers urge a liberal appropriation by way of bounty and aid to the families of volunteers.”

“The supervisors met July 29th, and appropriated $60,000 (about $1,300,000 today) for a war fund. They voted a bounty of $60 (about $1,200 today) to each volunteer, or $5 monthly (about $108 today) to his family, as he might elect.”

“Twelve companies, six of whom had their headquarters in Joliet, were being raised in Will county. Soon the idea of a Will county regiment was suggested, and took with everybody, and soon authority was obtained to that effect, and the old barracks on the fair grounds were put in order, and the Will county regiment, the 100th Illinois, took possession, and fast organized the companies and the regiment.”

“An enthusiastic meeting was held at the Linebarger school house (in Jackson Township) the 26th of July, and 20 recruits raised. One lady, a Mrs. Bush, gave up her fourth son to the cause, and said, if she had four more, they should go. This was by no means an isolated instance. A Mrs. Noble, of Wilmington, gave two boys to the 100th regiment, and she subsequently gave one to the 39th regiment. These were all she had of sufficient age.”

“These two Noble boys, sons of a Noble mother, were taken prisoners at Chickamauga, and taken to Andersonville. One lived through it; the other died a martyr to his country.”

While the folks at home were busy in the war effort, the boys on the front enjoyed a brief respite from the fighting. In the July 30, 1862 issue of the Wilmington Independent a man identified only as E. P. from the 20th Illinois Voluntary Infantry in Corinth, Tennessee wrote;

“July 20, 1862 – Friend Steele: Having nothing to occupy my time for the present, I will give you a few lines relative to matters hereabouts. It is easy to form opinions as to how things appear in and around Corinth, which was once marked as the spot where would occur the greatest battle the world ever knew. The inglorious skedaddle of the enemy, however, prevented the fight, and nothing now remains but broken vehicles, burnt dishes, bits of shells, old bayonets, butternut uniforms and contrabands (former slaves).”

“To look over the surrounding country there is nothing to attract the eye, but follow up the river to the east, and you will find a line of entrenchments, one after another, extending for about ten miles in a semi-circle, surrounding the town on the north, and generally facing towards the Tennessee River. It appears that after the evacuation, the rebels found they could not move all the artillery, and I saw two very handsome twelve pound howitzers, of English manufacture, which were dug up a few days ago, and more are coming to light every day.”

“The enemy is about twenty miles from here, and slight skirmishing is going on almost constantly. Some people here are apprehensive of an attack, some say the rebels are attempting to cover a movement of Bragg’s, and some say that because the enemy are scattered over such an extent of country an attempt will be made to recapture this place. But Corinth can never be recaptured. The boys will fight to the death to keep the entrenchments which cost Beauregard so much labor and script to prepare.”

“The boys seem jolly and contented. Yet the usage they receive is none of the best. Young upstarts of officers ride through the streets, putting on airs, and scarcely speak to privates. Shoulder straps have made the brains of many young men dizzy. The food is of the best quality as it stands in the Commissary department, but Commissary officers and cooks smuggle part of it, and move the rest round so much that when it reaches the soldier it is poor in quality and meager in quantity.”

“If ever a country had cause to be grateful to her sons, it is America. There is no hardships they will not undergo, no privations they will not endure for their country. They lie down to sleep upon the broad earth, with only the canopy of heaven to cover them. They dream of the happy homes they have left, and the loved ones in them, and think nothing of the sacrifice they have made for our dear old flag. Ought not Americans to be proud of her sons? God grant a speedy termination to this unholy war.”

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