CUMBERLAND COUNTY ILLINOIS
Transcribed by the Book
"Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland Illinois"
Originally published 1884
by F.A. Battey & Co., Chicago, Ill.


CUMBERLAND  COUNTY'S  WAR  RECORD

    The people of Cumberland County were noted for their fighting qualities, from a very early day up to a date subsequent to the war of the rebellion, and had that great contest been decided by a resort to fists, this region of the country would have contributed some of the most noted champions in the field. It was not until the era of the war that weapons began to be freely used here, in personal encounters, and hence, while Cumberland County contributed her quota to the armies of the North during the years 1860-65, there was nothing to distinguish this section from the great mass of the loyal North. The people here were largely " Douglas Democrats," and intimately acquainted with Lincoln. He had practiced law in the County Courts, a large number of his relatives were residents here and in the adjoining County of Coles, and he numbered among the leading men of Cumberland some of his most intimate friends. The political events, therefore, that led to the fatal issue of the war, were full of interest to the people of Cumberland, and, while their sympathies were principally with the " Little Giant," their belief in " State sovereignty " and the constitution as the supreme law of the land, made them supporters of the result of the election of I860. The menacing attitude taken by the South up to the commission of overt acts of rebellion was not generally condemned, as there was a strong opposition to anything like abolition or coercion; but when the echoes of the attack on Sumpter reached here, the rallying to the support of the Union was practically unanimous. Prejudices in regard to negroes, in regard to candidates, or any of the agitating questions of the hour, were forgotten, and every man and party was for the Union. Political lines, however, were strictly maintained, and Seymour and McClellan received the full party vote, notwith­standing the significance of their election. As the war progressed, other elements entered into the situation here, and embittered the feeling between the political parties. Hot-headed men of both political elements came together at public meetings, with furloughed or returned soldiers on one side, and deserters on the other, and a number of fatal encounters occurred. There is no evidence that desertions were encouraged by the people here, but there was no effort made to give them up, when once here, to the authorities. A natural suggestion of the reason would be, that these persons were not likely to submit quietly to arrest, and the people had not the courage of their convictions sufficiently to feel prepared to shoot old acquaintances, or be shot by them. The county gained a somewhat unenviable reputation on this account, and rumors of a premeditated attack on the county seat by returned soldiers were common. After the unfortunate riot at Charleston, in Coles County, the citizens here were in a fever of expectation, and several times the people came rushing in from the country around to defend the county seat from an imagined assault.
    On the call of the Governor for the organization of six regiments, there was not the spontaneous enthusiasm evinced here as in many sections. While generally in favor of the maintenance of the Union, the prevailing sentiment was opposed to the war as a specific means to that end, and many who were moved otherwise went to other places to offer their services to the General Government, and some 250 men enlisted in various organizations and were credited elsewhere than Cumberland County. In 1862, Hon. Thos. Brewer became (as his Democratic colleagues express it) " rather shaky in his Democracy under this strain," and took an active part in encouraging the enlistment's, making speeches in all parts of the county. It was about this time that the larger number of volunteers began to be enrolled, the One Hundred and Twenty Third Infantry being raised at this time. The Twenty First Infantry, raised in 1861, however, received a full company from Cumberland.
    In June, 1861, the Board of Supervisors appointed a committee of one from each township " to see to the wants and procure such necessaries as, in their judgment, shall conduce to the sustenance and support of the families of the absent volunteers." This provision, generous in its terms and boundless in its limits, suggests an appreciative regard for the soldier and his sacrifices, but the records ot the county and State nowhere show that this provision went further than the records of the county, and, as a matter of fact, in the judgment of the larger part of this committee, nothing was necessary " to conduce to the sustenance and support of the families of absent volunteers." In February, 1865, the Board offered a bounty of $400 for each person " that may volunteer in the United States service to fill the quota of Cumberland County in the draft now ordered by the President of the United States, and that for that purpose the Board issue county orders sufficient for the purpose of procuring volunteers to fill the quota of the several towns in said county, and that this Board levy a tax of $1 upon each $100 of valuation of taxable property in said county, and $1 cap­itation tax on all males between the ages of twenty one and sixty." It was further provided that bonds should be specially issued to meet the orders issued for this purpose. But all this elaborate machinery was destined to be brought to naught. The public sentiment rebelled, and it is said that threats of hanging the members were made with sufficient earnestness to secure the rescinding of the order at the next meeting. No bounty was paid by the county, but under this call Union Township sent sixteen substitutes to the field at a cost of $6,500, and Sumpter Township sent two at a cost of $800. The Adjutant General's report gives the total expenditure of the county for the procurement of volunteers tit $8,151.25. The same report gives the summary of the quotas and credits of the county as follows: Population in 18(30, 8,309. First and second class enrollment in 1863, 903; in 1864, 985; in 1865, 906. Quotas in 1861, 233; in 1862, 159; under call of February 1 and March 14, 1864, 203; under the call of July 18,1864,154; a total of 749. The total credits, prior to December 31, 1864, were 880 men, which made an excess of credit of 131 men. In December, 1865, the quota of the county was 169, but diminished by the excess of credit, the actual assigned quota was only 38. The credit under this last report was 40, leaving an excess of 2 of credit, in a total quota during the war, of 918, and credit of 920; so that it appears that Cumberland County contributed something more than a full regiment to the Union armies during the years 1861-65. These men cannot all be traced through the records, but in numbers of from 5 to 20, they are found in Company E, Twenty Fifth Infantry; Company E, Thirty Eighth Infantry; Company G, Fifty Fourth Infantry; Companies F and H, Sixty First Infantry; Company C, Sixty Second Infantry; in the Sixty Third Infantry, in several companies; Company E, Sixty Sixth Infantry; Company C, Sixty Eighth Infantry; Company E, Seventy First Infantry; Company B, Eighty Eighth Infantry; Companies I and E, Ninety Eighth Infantry; Company K, One Hundred and Forty Third Infantry, and Company G, One Hundred and Fifty Second Infantry; beside in larger numbers in the Twenty First, Fifty Ninth, Ninety Seventh, One Hundred and Twenty Third, One Hundred and Thirty Fifth Illinois Infantry Regiments, and the Fifth and Tenth Illinois Cavalry Regiments.


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