It is always neat to learn new history! Thanks to a press release on the Senior News & Times for Illinois I learned that a Ulysses S. Grant’s overnight campsite was in nearby Jacksonville, Illinois. Today, my husband Keith and I even traced a few historical stops in town!
The corner of the Morgan County Fairgrounds is where Grant and his troops camped overnight before heading out on their march. There is a concrete marker at Grant’s campsite that says “Col U.S. Grant in command 21 In Vol Inf. Camped here July 5, 1861.”
It is the historical marker next to it, though that tells the real story of how Grant came to be in charge of what they call an “unruly bunch”. “U.S. Grant Camp Site. “July 5, 1861 the Twenty-First Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Col U.S. Grant Commanding, camped on this site. this regiment recruited mostly in and around Mattoon, refused to go into Federal service under its elected Colonel so Grant was appointed in his place.”
Amazingly it goes on to state, “In order to bring the regiment to a state of discipline, Grant determined to march the men from Springfield to Quincy. On the way the destination was changed to Naples. At which place river boats were to pick up the regiment. Another change of orders sent it to Quincy. This marked the beginning of Grant’s March to fame as a general and as President of the United States.”
In the press release the Jacksonville Area Museum states, “The members of the 21st, most of whom were from eastern Illinois, later participated in the battles of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Chickamauga, Georgia, where they suffered many casualties.”
Finding a bayonet that may have been at Grant’s Campsite!
In the press release on the Senior News & Times website, there is a story about a local man, Bob Anderson finding a Civil War saber in his garden while tilling! He also found a couple unfired lead musket balls as well. His property on West Lafayette street is near the fairground location.
While the Jacksonville Area Museum Organization cannot be sure, they think this may be part of the same soldiers that were under Grant’s command. The solider may have served and camped at Grant’s campsite! Bob Anderson kindly decided to donate the bayonet to the Jacksonville Area Museum to preserve and interpret it for posterity.
We were quite excited to learn that since the museum’s opening date is still several months away, the bayonet may be seen at Market House Antiques. Located at 226 E. State Street in Jacksonville, on Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Tuesday, March 30. The bayonet while rusty and small is quite amazing and tells a fascinating story!
The Jacksonville Area Museum
The Jacksonville Area Museum will eventually open in the beautiful post office caddy corner from the Market House Antiques. According to the website, “The Museum is being developed in the historic old Post Office building at 301 E. State Street in Jacksonville, and will be open to the public in mid 2021. The initial Museum space will fill the old lobby, post office box and office areas of the Post Office. As additional funds are raised, the Museum will triple its usable space by expanding into the old mail handling and sorting area on the southern two-thirds of the building. The building’s basement will also be transformed into archival, educational and office space.”
Last but not least, we also saw a beautiful Grant Mural. A young man at the antique store shared that this was the latest mural of several in the City. The story behind the mural is explained in the Discover Downtown brochure. It says that the soldiers could have taken the train, but Grant felt they needed to be ready for war, so he decided to march the troops and camp in Jacksonville.
This is just a few of the wonderful things to see and do in this historic town!