By Mark Rhoads
Members of the nonpartisan Illinois State Society of Washington, DC took part in a very unusual ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvana. Members are shown with a color guard of Civil War re-enactors laying a wreath af the monument to the 82nd Illinois Infantry regiment. Other wreaths were presented at the monuments to the 8th Illinois Cavalry, the 12th Illinois Cavalry, the statue of Gen. John Buford of Rock Island, Illinois and the memorial at the site where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.
The Illinois units played a critical role in helping Union troops to gain the high ground on the first day of the battle on July 1, 1863. A letter from Gov. Pat Quinn was read aloud that explained this ceremony was a re-dedication of a ceremony first held on Sept. 3, 1891 when former Gov. John Beverdige and former Gov. Joseph Fifer, both Civil War veterans, first dedicated the monuments. Fifer, from Danvers, Illinois, was badly wounded at Vicksburg in 1863 and Gen. U.S. Grant from Galena told him he could go home but Fifer declined and volunteered with only one arm to guard Confederate prisoners until the war was over in 1865.
Gov. Quinn wrote to the group yesterday, "I want to commend the members of The Illinois State Society of Washington, DC for all your activites that celebrate our state heritage and for honoring soldiers from Illinois in that long and tragic Civil War."
Mark Rhoads will be featured at Heartland Institute's Author Series this week in the Loop. See Illinois Review's calendar info for details.