Tuesday, February 26, 2008


By Judge J. M Dickinson
Judge J. M Dickinson, a Tennessean, but now residing in Chicago, refers to some interesting history set forth in Erwin's "History of Williamson County, Ill." Some extracts are as follows, beginning on page 257:
But among the old liners a strong sympathy for the South was felt. By the 1st of April, 1861, the parties were nearly equally divided, and excitement was running very high. Our leading men were in trouble, and some were noisy and clamorous for Southern rights. In a few days after the inauguration, Peter Keifer made a speech in the courthouse, in which lie said, "Our country must be saved;" but it was understood that "our country" meant the South, by the motion of his hand. Sympathy for "our Southern brethren" became stronger and stronger every day. Propositions for organizing the people into companies and regiments were made. Secession was openly talked of until the 9th day of April, 1861, when it began to take shape. It was just after the fall of Fort Sumter that a party of ten or fifteen men got together in a saloon, in Marion, and agreed to call a public meeting to pass ordinances of secession. They appointed a Committee on Resolutions, who were to report at the public meeting. The call was made for a meeting to be held in the courthouse on Monday, April 15, 1861, to provide for the "public safety." A large crowd came in, and the meeting was called to order, and James D. Manier elected President. He then appointed G. W. Goddard, James M. Washburn, Henry C. Hopper, John M. Cunningham, and William R. Scurlock a comÆmittee to draft resolutions of secession. The saloon committee had the resolutions already prepared, and they were reported and passed with but one dissenting voice, and that was A. T. Benson, and were as follows:
"Resolved: 1. That we, the citizens of Williamson County, firmly believing, from the distracted condition of our county---the same being brought about by the elevation to power of a strictly sectional party---the coercive policy of which toward the seceded States will drive all the border slave States from the Federal Union, and cause them to join the Southern Confederacy.
"2. That, in such event, the interest of the citizens of Southern Illinois imperatively demands at their hands a division of the State. We æhereby pledge ourselves to use all means in our power to effect the same, and attach ourselves to the Southern Confederacy.
"3. That, in our opinion, it is the duty of the present administration to withdraw all the troops of the Federal government that may be stationed in Southern forts, and acknowledge the independence of the Southern Confederacy, believing that such a course would he calculated to restore peace and harmony to our distracted country.
"4. That in view of the fact that it is probable that the present Governor of the State of Illinois will call upon the citizens of the same to take up arms for the purpose of subjecting the people of the South, we hereby enter our protest against such a course, and, as loyal citizens, will refuse, frown down, and forever oppose the same."
These resolutions were written by Henry C. Hopper. The news of this meeting spread rapidly, and by the next morning it had reached Carbondale, and had been telegraphed to Gen. Prentiss, at Cairo. The people of Carbondale, seeing the trouble our people were bringing themselves, sent J. M. Campbell up to Marion on the i6th of April to tell the people to revoke the resolutions. He said they must be repealed, or war would be brought on our own soil and at our own doors. The people were excited badly. A meeting was called to repeal the resolutions, and to meet instanter, but not by the same men who were in the meeting of the 15th. W. J. Allen was called in to address the meeting, which he did at some length. He said that he was for repealing the resolutions, and that others could do as they pleased, but as for him and his house, they would stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
The resolutions were repealed, and A. T. Benson appointed as a committee of one to convey a copy of the proceedings to Gen. Prentiss. When he arrived at Cairo he found Gen. Prentiss reading the resolutions. He gave him a copy of the proceedings of the meeting of the 16th, and Prentiss said: "I am glad to see them. The resolutions of secession would have caused your folks trouble; but now I hope all will be right."
Those men who held the meeting of the 15th contended that the meeting of the 16th had no right to repeal the resolutions, and that they were not repealed, and that the people must organize. So a meeting. was called for the 27th of April, pursuant to the one of the 15th. The meeting was called to order, and a motion made to"seize the money in the hands of the sheriff to defray the expenses of arming and equipping soldiers for the Southern Army." The fever for organizing into military companies had cooled-off. so that this motion was lost, and the meeting broke up in a row.
Gen. Prentiss had dropped off a company of men at Big Muddy bridge as he was going to Cairo. This was intolerable to our people. The whole country was in a flame. Thorndike Brooks and Harvey Hays raised the whoop in Marion; runners were sent all over the country to tell the people to come into town next morning wit 11 their guns. Next morning a great many people came into town with guns, anxious to know what was wanted with them, when they were told that "the men at the bridge must be whipped away." Most of them turned and went home. Some objected, and said they had no guns, and that the soldiers had good guns: but some few went on to Carbondale. and others tried to get them not to go. At Carbondale they found a noisy crowd assembled for the same purpose. Soon after they met they sent Isaiah Harris up to the bridge, which was four miles north of Carbondale, to spy around. When lie got in sight of the soldiers he saw a cannon, and returned and told them that they could not whip the soldiers. News of these proceedings having reached Gen. Prentiss, at Cairo, an hour before, he sent up another compamy, with more cannon. The train stopped at Carbondale, when the crowd was at its highest and most clam3rous condition. After staying there awhile, she pulled on up to the bridge. At this crisis Gov. Dougherty, W. Tiecker, of Cairo, and Gen. I. N. Hannie, made speeches to the people, and told them to stand by the Union.
Gov. Dougherty said that "the speeches and guns persuaded the people not to attack the bridge." The people of Marion were standing listening for a bloody battle, but they were disappointed. A few straggling crowds came back from Carbondahe, cursing and frothing like wild men. William Cram swore that he could have taken his boys and cleaned out the soldiers, and Brooks and Wheeler called the people cowards and slaves.
On the 24th day of May, 1861, Col. Brooks and Harvey Hayes, despairing of raising an army here, or organizing the .county, formed the design of raising a company and going South. They sent a man to Carbondale to recruit, and they commenced at home. By the next evening they had about thirty names on their list, and had given orders for them to rendezvous at the "Delaware Crossing," on the Saline, six miles south of Marion. They all got to the place about two hours by sun on the 25th day of May, 1861, and the few that came from Carbondale swelled the number to thirty or thirty-five men, mostly under the age of twenty-three years. They started on to Paducah on foot, and walked all night; and next day in the afternoon Robert Kelly went on to Linn's Hotel to have supper prepared for the boys. Their number had now increased to about forty men. Their feet became sore, and all of them laggud behind but six, who went on to get supper, where they were surrounded by one hundred and thirty-five home guards and taken prisoners. A friend to the boys got on his horse, knowing that they were coming into the same trap, and went tip the road to let them know. The home guards left a guard with the six boys and came on up the road to meet the others from Marion, but when they came to the forks of the road, north of Linn's Hotel, supposing the boys had taken the one leading to Brooklyn, started down to the river. The boys went on until they came to the forks of the road, and, seeing by the tracks that the guards had gone the left-hand, they went on rapidly to Linn's Hotel, where they recaptured their six companions, and went on to the river opposite Paducah. Here Kelly had prepared a ferryboat for them, but it had laid there twenty-four hours and the boilers had cooled off. They were in a critical condition; but just then they saw a steamboat, the Old Kentucky, rounding up to Paducah out of the mouth of the Tennessee. and pretty soon she was heading across the Ohio. They hoarded her, and crossed over. They went to Mayfield, Ky.. and joined Company G, One Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, and were in Gen. Cheatham's command.
At the close of the war about half of them returned home. Brooks got to be a lieutenant colonel, and is now a wealthy merchant in Baltimore, Md.

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