Finding Civil War Heroes ...
Paris Beacon-News, May 23, 2011
Sometimes 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.
The 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.
A 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.")