Civil War Research

Finding Civil War Heroes ...

Paris Beacon-News, May 23, 2011

civil_war_pettifordSometimes details that remain hidden in cemetery research can be found at the Edgar County Genealogy Library.

A search at  the library located on North Main Street revealed some additional facts about local  involvement in Civil War  operations by numerous Edgar County residents, many of whom are buried in Edgar Cemetery.

Linda Cary,  genealogy librarian, assists the Genealogy Society in recording graves in Edgar  Cemetery on an ongoing basis. By her count, there are actually 388 Civil War  burials there. A total of 1,587 military veterans of all wars are interred in  Edgar Cemetery, Cary said.

“The old  government issued stones usually omit dates, which is a shame,” Cary noted, but  added, “Detailed military records available at the Genealogy Library usually  give more information about each soldier.”

Further  genealogy resources in the small library located at 408 North Main Street,  Paris, indicate that Edgar County is officially credited with having a total of  2,312 men who served in the Civil War.

More interesting  facts at the Genealogy Library are available for those who seek a local angle  on the Civil War, as well as some information about the involvement of other  states in the conflict.

For example,  an eight-volume series includes the Illinois Adjutant General’s Reports of  units, scrimmages and soldiers from Illinois who served their country as officers  and enlisted men from 1861-1866.

civilwarstones 2The Illinois Roll of Honor in two volumes includes deceased ex-servicemen and women in  Illinois, records of the burial places of these Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and  Army Nurses of the Civil War, as well as of all Wars of the United States  buried in the State of Illinois.

In addition,  a large volume showcases the Military Atlas of the Civil War.

A recently  acquired two-volume Civil War set includes a picture chronicle and narrative of  the war.

One locally  generated manuscript was compiled by Scott Parkinson of Paris, who concluded in  his subsequent master’s thesis that “2,150 individuals served in the Civil War  from Edgar County, although official Illinois State records vary by numbers …  Almost three out of every four men who were eligible to serve from Edgar County  did so.”

Cary added  that sometimes the wealthy paid others to take their place in the draft.

Parkinson explains  how 10 companies of approximately 100 men each were organized at a local level  and then mustered in at a central location with other companies to form a  regiment. Many would-be soldiers journeyed to mustering locations in hopes of  being taken in by a company or regiment that was in need of a few extra men.

Once a  company was organized, the men elected their commander, who was given the rank  of captain, and also elected their officers.

civilwargenealogyA second manuscript, “Illinois Military Units in the Civil War,” was published by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Illinois in 1962. This resource, also donated by Parkinson, reports on Illinois Military Units in the Civil War by counties, and includes infantry, cavalry, artillery and the names of Illinois Military Organizations.

Parkinson  intentionally focused his research on the 256,297 less well-known men who  fought for state and country on the field of battle from 1861 to 1865. Many  Edgar County names are listed. So the Genealogy Library is a good place for  people to research a local ancestor’s involvement in the Civil War.

Parkinson  concluded from his work, “Illinois’ role in the Civil War was proud and  impressive.”

Memorial Day  2011 was a timely opportunity to commemorate the role of Edgar County veterans  in the cause of the Civil War, and remember these veterans buried Edgar County  with red, white or blue flags. ('See related story, "A Tribute to Civil War Veterans.")

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