Carroll County IL Biography

Robert M.A. Hawk

Capt. Robert Moffett Allison Hawk was born a Hoosier, in Hancock county, Ind. the year Carroll county was formed (1839) and came with his parents to Carroll county, Free­dom township in 1846 where they settled on a farm. With his close friend, Egbert T. E. Becker, he enlisted in the 92nd regiment, Illinois Volunteers, in 1862, each promising the other to look after their respective families should one not return.

The 92nd was formed at Rockford Sept. 4, 1862 and Hawk went in at age 23 as a first lieutenant in Company C, one of two Carroll county companies. There were five from Ogle and three companies from Stephenson county. The regiment was ordered to report to Gen. Wright at Cincinnati and moved out Oct. 11, 1862 to join Gen. Baird's Army of Kentucky.

The regiment saw some of the toughest fight­ing of the Civil War; it was in 40 battles and skirmishes and when Captain William Stouffer of Company C was killed on Jan. 21, 1863, Lt. Hawk was promoted to captain. The Carroll county men fought in the Army of the Cum­berland through Tennessee. They were at Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Chattanoo­ga, and marched with Gen. Sherman to the sea in Georgia. Capt. Hawk was severely wounded at Swift Creek, N.C. losing a leg, and was mustered out June 21, 1865.

He married 14 year old Mary Clark in Eu­reka, 111. in July; was elected county clerk of Carrol] county in November and served con­tinuously without opposition until resigning to go to Congress.

His home in Mt. Carroll was at the south­west corner of Clay and Pleasant, now an apartment building. Robert and Mary Hawk had four children, Henry C. who moved to Michigan, Hannah Gertrude, a spinster, who remained with her mother, and Egbert B. named for his father's longtime friend. The Hawk's lost one son, Robert M. While driving in the family carriage when Egbert was quite small, the little lad was seriously injured when the horses ran away. The boy suffered all his life with a leg injury. At an early age he entered the practice of law with his uncle n Bloomington,

On April 28, 1878, the Mirror said: "HURRAH FOR LITTLE CARROLL—NOMI­NATION AND ELECTION OF MAJOR. M. A. HAWK AS CONGRESSMAN. The people of the fifth congressional district of Illinois, composed of Jo Daviess, Carrol Whiteside, Ogle and Stephenson counties, have about come to the conclusion that the time as arrived when a change in their member is not only desirable but necessary. The presen: incumbent, Hon. H. C. Burchard, has occupied the position for about twelve years, and for a time seemed to give satisfaction to a fair pro­portion of his constituents, but latterly Mr. Burchard has fallen very considerably in the estimation of the people. His actions in many matters pertaining to the civil service of the country, especially this portion of it, have been severely criticized.

"While it is yet early to present a candidate in this district, the Herald of this City in an article last week presented a name for candidacy which we can not hesitate to second. It presented the name of one of Carroll Count's citizens who is well and favorably known not only in this county but throughout the district. A man whose private character is above reproach, and whose ability is unquestioned we pledge our unwavering support to Captain R. M. A. Hawk."

May 10, 1878, the same Mirror said Daviess will present and urge the name of McClellan. Jo Daviess is solidly against Burchard, and if McClellan should not develop much strength outside of his own county, it would be natural that it would go for Hawk. Cap. Hawk has many friends in Ogle county, and there is not much doubt he will get the Ogle delegation" and on May 24. "The editor visited Byron with Captain E. T. E. Becker. This part of 'old Ogle' is for Hawk!"

On June 28, the Republican county conven­tion met in Mt. Carroll, and a committee was appointed to select delegates to the Congres­sional Convention at Freeport, August 8. Dele­gates named were Hon. J. M. Hunter, B. Noble, N. Lewis, J. F. Chapman, R. M. Cook, J. M. Jenks, J. B. Johnston and C. L. Hostetter. J. M. Hunter introduced a resolution that Major R. M. A. Hawk be the choice of the Republicans of Carroll County for the office of Congressman from the Fifth District and that our delegates go to the convention in Free-port on August 8 instructed to vote as a unit for him. It was unanimously adopted.

At that convention the Carroll County dele­gation together with that from Ogle voted for Hawk as instructed. The Mirror said: "The voting continued without change until over 300 ballots were taken when Stephenson and Whiteside began to break up and change over. Ogle and Carroll stuck to Hawk and Jo Daviess voted for McClellan. Adjournments were had, recesses were taken, and finally at 11:40 p.m. of the second day, Jo Daviess, after a short consultation on the 517th ballot changed eight of her votes to Hawk giving him the necessary 30. The wildest enthusiasm pre­vailed. Cheer after cheer rang through the opera house. Again we say, 'Hurrah for Little Carroll, and Ogle, and 8/11th of Jo Daviess'!" At the next Republican convention in Chicago Garfield was nominated for President on the 36th ballot; and Arthur for Vice President. Later Hon. H. C. Burchard was appointed Director of the mint.

In the 1878 general election Hawk was given a 1186 majority in Carroll county; 500 in Jo Daviess; 720 in Stephenson; 1135 in Whiteside and 1848 in Ogle. Pratt, the greenback candi­date for the legislature, was elected over Green, a Democrat. Hawk invited the board of supervisors and other friends for oyster supper at his home with 25 attending. During the first session Hawk introduced two important bills, one to provide for re-organiz­ing the army and disciplining the militia, the other that oleomargerine and imitations of butter must be shipped in packages so marked. On August 6, 1880, Congressman Hawk was nominated without opposition for re-election at the Republican convention at Freeport.

During the second term, Hawk was having problems at home. A postmaster was to be appointed for Mt. Carroll, and not one, but six of his veteran friends wanted the job. How could he choose? He felt the only way out was the re-appointment of Postmaster R. J. Tomkins who had given satisfactory service for many years. His constituants in Carroll grumbled and started looking around for an­other candidate. Jo Daviess promptly said they would support no candidate from Carroll except Hawk, and if his name was not proposed would nominate their favorite son. The result: on June 9, 1882, the Mirror said, "R. M. A. Hawk is the unanimous choice of the Carroll county convention called by R. G. Bailey chairman of the central committee."

Probate records indicated that Congress­man Hawk had died in Washington June 30, the date of the Freeport nominating conven­tion. Microfilm newspaper records of Carroll County for July were missing but a trip to the Freeport library where all papers of that city from early times are on microfilm was reward­ing. The Freeport Journal disclosed that "Robert M. A. Hawk up from the Fifth Con­gressional District died at Washington at 10:50 P.M. June 29th from apoplexy. For weeks he had had a most bitter fight in pre-convention voting but he carried four out of five counties and fifty-two out of seventy dele­gates.

The convention was called at Freeport at 3:30 P.M. June 30. His renomination had been conceded on the first ballot. The session was given over to eulogies and recessed to July 16.

A funeral train with the body left Washing­ton with one Pullman and one compartment car with the Sergeant at Arms of the House in charge and eighteen Senators and Represen­tatives to attend the Mt. Carroll services. Among them were Senator John A. Logan of Illinois, General J. A. Smith from Galena, Hon. J. W. McDill, Iowa, John Z. George, Mississippi, G. C. Cabel, Virginia, Senators McDill and George, and Representatives Ca-hill and McKenzie. A special train was made up at Freeport with round trip ticket 80 cents. A special train came from Racine, and five coaches and five cabooses from Rock Island.

Sixty Masons and forty members of the G.A.R. came from Freeport with the Germania band; eighty from Shannon, two hundred fifty from Lanark, and reporters from the Rockford Ga­zette, Galena Gazette, and Fulton and Free-port Journals. Some 7,000 people came to Mt. Carroll for the services. Major Hawk was buried with full military and Masonic honors in Oak Ridge cemetery, Mount Carroll. Mary Clark Hawk died in 1917, and their daughter Gertrude in 1938. All are buried in the family plot.

At the Congressional Convention recessed to July 16th, Carroll county proposed the name of Senator James Shaw, feeling him most worthy and that a son of this county should have the right to carry on for Hawk. Other delegates, however, felt it was their turn for representation and Carroll's 70 votes were cast for Robert R. Hitt of Ogle county who was elected to Congress and served well for many years.

On Aug. 4, Governor Cullom issued writs of election to county clerks in the old Fifth District to fill the vacancy caused by death of Hawk. Little Carroll united with the delegates to nominate Hitt, thus giving him the few months in the "lame duck" session.

Civil War Letters of Capt. Hawk

The following letters were published by the Carroll County Mirror Democrat, as explained in the M-D editor's note.

(Editor's note: The following letters were written by the late Congressman R. M. A. Hawk, during the war and before the then Captain lost his leg in behalf of his country, to his friend, James Mark, then one of the prominent farmers and cattlemen of this sec­tion. Mr. Mark was the husband of the late Caroline Mark, whose monument is the Caroline Mark Home for aged ladies. The letters have been preserved during all these years in the family and are in perfect shape and form, neither paper nor ink has faded and Mr. Hawk was certainly a beautiful writer.)

Headquarters Co. C. 92nd 111. Vol. M. I
Ringgold, Ga., April 21st, 1864.
Mr. James Mark
Dear Friend:

Some time has passed since I was at home and since I saw you. You have doubt­less come to the conclusion that I am not disposed to fulfill my promise to write to you. Such however is not the case. I have no desire whatever to neglect my correspondence but the lack of time since my return to the regiment is the reason of my not writing sooner.

Those who go into the service thinking that there is nothing to do but to fight and discipline men are sadly mistaken. There is writing enough in the office of the commander of a company to keep one person nearly all the time employed. When I returned from my short visit home, I found 34 recruits to be drilled, equipped and prepared for service as soon as possible, which has kept me busy nearly every moment of the time since my return to duty. I am now happy to say that they are all clothed and sufficiently drilled to make a very soldierly appearance. I think I can lead them into a fight with full assurance that every man will do his duty faithfully. There is one thing however I am sorry to say and that is we have not been able to procure horses and Spencer rifles for the recruits. There is some talk of the Regiment being dismounted but I think that we will be able to get horses for all our dismounted men in three weeks certain.

Our Colonel S. D. Atkins is making every effort to have us dismount but I think he will not succeed as he will not get the cooperation of a single officer or enlisted man in his com­mand.

The truth of the matter is that he at first wanted his regiment mounted. Now he curses the mounted service. I think simply because his chances to command a Brigade are not so good in the mounted service as on foot. Before the present disagreement, the officers in our regiment have always been unanimous in every movement that the regiment has made. I hope that the cloud which is now hanging over us will soon clear away and leave us the enjoyment once more of domestic peace and tranquility.

I had a safe journey from home to the Regiment and found my boys glad to see me again. They were all well and continue so. We are now encamped near Ringgold, Ga., as you will notice by the commencement of my letter. This is the place where we had a fight on the 9th of last September, only a short time before the Battle of Chickamauga. The old battle ground looks quite natural and I could pick out several places where the bullets flew quite thick as the brush will show any one who is curious enough to examine. The town, however, which had as many in­habitants as Mt. Carroll before the war, is a mass of ruins, it having been burned by Maj. Gen. Joe Hooker about the 20th of last January. This is nothing uncommon for towns within the boundary of the war. Scarcely any of them retain their flourishing appearance long as when not burned the soldiers are allowed to strip the weatherboarding from the houses to make their quarters more com­fortable and the brick portions are taken to make chimneys to the tents all of which we have little compunction of conscience while doing.

Our reasoning in the matter is that we would not have had to come down here soldiering had they not rebeled and we propose to make them with all their property to do all they can to make us comfortable. What think you? Is our reasoning right?

I sent up an application for a furlough for Ralph French, but it came back disap­proved stating that there would be no furloughs granted in the army of the Cumberland while 5 per cent of the men were absent from any cause which was equivalent to saying that there would not be any granted at all. Ralph is quite proud of his boots, says they do first rate and never leak a drop.

I was Division officer of the day on yester­day and saw the Rebs about half a mile from where I stood. Their pickets and ours stand only a few hundred yards apart. Johnson, the rebel General is said to be in our front with thirty thousand men. If such is the case we may be attacked any day as we have but one division of Cavalry and one of Infantry at this place. If he should try us on we will give him the best we have in the shop.

My boys write in sending their kindest regards to the donor of the old flag. They only wish they could have the pleasure of seeing you again but not until the cruel war is over.

Give my regards to Mrs. Mark and remem­ber me as your loving friend, ---
R. M. A. Hawk



Headquarters Co. C. 92nd 111. Vol. Near Savannah, Ga., Dec. 29, 1864.
Mr. James Mark

Dear Friend:
You will see by this that I have not forgotten my promise to write to you occasionally. Although my letters are some distance apart yet I haven't forgotten the scenes of my boyhood nor the familiar faces that cluster around their memory. I am in hope that this will find yourself and wife well as it leaves brother Tom and myself. Since last writing the greatest activity has been prevailing in the armies of the Union, from one side of our great country to the other and prospects bid fair for a speedy and glorious termination of the great struggle which is to determine our power and self sustainance. On the 14th of November, the ground movement commenced from Marietta, Ga., which was to have severed the Con­federacy and which has so thoroughly accomplished its object. The Cavalry under Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick, numbering 5500 men met the rebel cavalry under the rebel Gen. Wheeler no less than six times during the march and whipped him every time. It would have done your soul good to have seen the complete licking and rout we gave them on the 4th inst. near Waynesboro, Ga. I cannot conceive any­thing half so grand as the behavior of our cavalry division on that occasion although there was many painful evidences of the sharpness of the contest scattered over the field. We killed, wounded or captured over 300 of them and caused them to lose confi­dence in their ability to cope with us on any­thing like equal terms. They outnumbered us but we licked them. Our march accomplished with very slight loss on our part and very great loss on the part of the enemy in the destruction of supplies for their armies and vast amount of cotton. The amount of property destroyed must be several millions of dollars beside the capture of Savannah which they boasted we could not take, with 30,000 bales of cotton, 200 pieces of heavy ordnance, 100 locomotives and much rolling stock. Here too, we have a new base from which we can threaten the most vital points, Charleston, Augusta, Wilmington and even Richmond is threatened at the same time, and it will cer­tainly be necessary to evacuate Charleston, Augusta and Wilmington to prevent our march on Richmond if our Generals choose to do so. Added to all their other troubles the news of Hood's defeat and rout by General Thomas and the death of Jeff Davis has just reached us, all of which is certainly a death stroke to the confederacy. I cannot see how possibly they can hold out much longer. Many of the citizens of Georgia have petitioned the President to restore the old form of government. They say they are tired of war and are willing to accept peace on any terms, that slavery has played out and that certainly need not stand in the way of peace. I think the war will close by the 4th of July 1865. The boots arrived allright just before we left Marietta. They fit first rate. Many thanks to you for the present. I shall not very soon forget the donor and shall feel only too proud to call him "friend" and sometime be able to return his kindness.

I have written as much as you will care to read. My regard to Mrs. Mark and remember me as your your young friend. ----
R.M.A. Hawk
Write to me please at your convenience

The Goodly Heritage Pg 308


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Letter To Samuel Preston, Mt. Carroll Township
From Captain Robert M. A. Hawk, U. S. Congressman From Mt. Carroll
Notes by Alice Horner: This letter was written December 11, 1880 on U. S. House of Representatives letterhead and envelope. The envelope wasn’t cancelled in Washington, D. C. until December 22, 1880. There is also a Lena (Stephenson County), Illinois cancel dated December 24 on the back of the envelope. There is no evidence of a stamp on the envelope; I think this is because Congressmen had free use of the post office. The words “Major Hawk, 1880” were written on the envelope later in pencil.

December 11th, 1880
Samuel Preston, Esq.
Mt. Carroll, Ill.

My Dear Sir:

I have just visited Prof. Baird at Smithsonian Institution and had a pleasant interview of an hour. I mentioned you as one of my constituents as being interested somewhat in Fish Culture. He gave me a blank which I herewith enclose, and which I hope you will read carefully and fill out. After which please return to me and I will endorse it over to the Professor who agrees to send fish (carp) to you in the spring, should you desire them.

We have been in session a week now and have made very little progress in legislation. The Dems have precipitated the joint rule on the Electoral Count which stirred up discussion. Rumors prevail within a day or two that they will lay aside the political question and proceed as soon as possible with the appropriation and funding bills. Weather here is fine. Prospect of a very short recess at holidays. I see you are having quite cold weather with you.

With kind regards to Mrs. Preston and hoping to hear from you at your convenience.

I am
Very Truly Yours,

R. M. A. Hawk

Note: The blank (form) doesn’t survive, so perhaps Samuel Preston was able to obtain some carp for his pond through the Smithsonian.

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