Rapidly rising charges for shipping produce and goods by rail lead Rep. William Brown of Winnebago County to propose legislation that would regulate freight and passenger rates of new railroads. The bill fails, as do later such attempts. The state constitution adopted in 1870 allowed the legislature to “correct abuses” of rates. Col. Isham Haynie, 48th Illinois Infantry, is appointed adjutant general by newly elected Gov. Richard Oglesby. He succeeds Allen Fuller, who left to join the Illinois House of Representatives.
See: Arthur C. Cole, The Era of The Civil War, 1848-1870, Centennial History of Illinois, vol. 3, pp. 357-59.
Ladies of Peoria’s Hebrew Benevolent Society hold an entertainment to benefit the families of local soldiers. They plan to become an auxiliary to the Ladies’ Soldiers’ Relief Society.
January 5, 1865
Richard Yates is elected U. S. Senator by the General Assembly.
January 7, 1865
In Springfield local officials begin to enforce the War Department order prohibiting civilians from wearing military uniform goods. “The practice has become so common that scores of people from the country, and even in the city, had some part of their clothing from Uncle Sam’s wardrobe.”
January 16, 1865
Republican Richard J. Oglesby, formerly commander of the 8th Illinois Infantry and badly wounded at Corinth, Mississippi, is inaugurated governor of Illinois.
The Ladies’ Union League of Groveland (Tazewell County) sends a box of dried fruit and clothing to Cairo. The Knoxville Soldiers’ Aid Society donates $400 to the U. S. Christian Commission. Nine regiments of infantry are mustered into service.
February 1, 1865
The Illinois General Assembly adopts a resolution ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which will abolish slavery. Illinois is the first state to do so. The vote in the House is 48-28, in the Senate 18-6.
February 7, 1865
The governor approves legislation repealing the state’s so-called “black laws,” which aimed at preventing African Americans from settling in Illinois and denied blacks a number of legal protections. Many legal and civil rights continue to be denied by other state laws that remain in force.
Gen. William T. Sherman’s army, including many Illinois regiments, moves from Savannah, Georgia into South Carolina.
For the involvement of Illinois troops see: Victor Hicken, Illinois in the Civil War. Histories of the Carolinas campaign include: John G. Barrett, Sherman’s March Through the Carolinas; Joseph T. Glatthaar, The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns.
February 17, 1865
Columbia, South Carolina, falls to Gen. William T. Sherman’s army. Much of the city is burned. Responsibility for the origin and the spread of the fire is long a matter of argument.
For the involvement of Illinois troops see: Victor Hicken, Illinois in the Civil War. Histories of the Carolinas campaign include: John G. Barrett, Sherman’s March Through the Carolinas; Joseph T. Glatthaar, The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns. For discussions of changing attitudes toward military treatment of non-combatants in wartime see: Mark E. Neely Jr., The Limits of Destruction; Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865; Harry Stout, Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War.
February 18, 1865
U.S. troops—including the African American 55th Massachusetts Infantry, with several members from Illinois—occupy Charleston, S.C.
February 23, 1865
The Soldiers’ Aid Society of Galesburg (Knox County) holds a supper and festival that includes “a genuine Yankee Tavern, of the olden time.” The money raised will be used to purchase vegetables that can be sent to soldiers at the front when the spring military campaign begins.
People in a number of towns make contributions to the Freedmen’s Aid Commission. The largest donors are: Bunker Hill (Macoupin County) $156; Bishop Hill (Henry County) $90; Carlinville (Macoupin County) $122.75; Channahon (Will County) $103; Morris (Grundy County) $111; Virden (Macoupin County) $81. One regiment of infantry is mustered into service.
March 4, 1865
President Lincoln is inaugurated for a second term. His address promises continuance of the war until the Union is restored and slavery ended in the United States, but calls for a forgiving reconstruction of the nation.
For a recent study of the speech see: Douglas L. Wilson, Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words, ch. 9.
March 6, 1865
William T. Sherman’s Federal army enters North Carolina. Depredations decrease somewhat, soldiers bent on punishing South Carolina for being the home of secession remembering that North Carolina was one of the last states to leave the Union.
For the involvement of Illinois troops see Victor Hicken, Illinois in the Civil War. Histories of the Carolinas campaign include: John G. Barrett, Sherman’s March Through the Carolinas; Joseph T. Glatthaar, The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns.
March 19-21, 1865
The battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, is fought. Illinois units see over 45 killed, 200 wounded, and 30 captured or missing.
For full accounts see: Mark L. Bradley, The Battle of Bentonville: Last Stand in the Carolinas; Nathaniel C. Hughes, Bentonville: The Last Battle of Sherman and Johnston.
April 2, 1865
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s evacuation of Petersburg, Virginia, leads to the fall of the Confederate capital, Richmond. The 39th Illinois Infantry has taken part in the Petersburg campaign that resulted in capture of the capital.
April 8-12, 1865
Federal troops capture Mobile, Alabama, after assaulting Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. Several Illinois units take part.
For a full history of the campaign see: John C. Waugh, Last Stand at Mobile.
April 9, 1865
The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia is surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse , Virginia, to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
April 15, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln dies in Washington, the victim of assassination. Within days it is decided that his remains be laid to rest in Springfield, Illinois.
For a well-illustrated account of the funeral journey to Illinois and its many stops see: Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Phillip B. Kunhardt, Twenty Days.
April 26, 1865
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the last major Confederate army, operating in North Carolina, to Gen. William T. Sherman at a farmhouse outside of Raleigh. Surrenders of smaller units continue into May.
May 4, 1865
President Lincoln’s remains are interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield following a lying-in-state at the Illinois statehouse statehouse (today the Old State Capitol State Historic Site).
For a well-illustrated account of the Springfield funeral see: Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Phillip B. Kunhardt, Twenty Days.
May 24-25, 1865
Several Illinois regiments are among the victorious Federal troops gathered near Washington, D.C., taking part in what is billed as the Grand Review. The troops pass before President Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and other ranking military and civilian leaders.
Army quartermaster officials are removing stocks of army clothing from Springfield to St. Louis. There are over 2,500 boxes. As the army is demobilized thousands of men are discharged and paid off at Camp Butler, near Springfield. Over the next months some regiments will receive well over $100,000 each in back pay, a huge amount of buying power.
June 21, 1865
Reports indicate that all Confederate prisoners except for two suffering from illness have left the Rock Island military prison.
A full history of the Rock Island prison is: Benton McAdams, Rebels at Rock Island: The Story of a Civil War Prison.
Citizens of Springfield continue to hold social events in each of the city’s wards to raise funds for support of needy families of soldiers.
July 4, 1865
The first peacetime Independence Day since 1860 is celebrated with speeches and large public dinners. Many towns use the occasion to officially welcome local men who have returned from the war.
July 15, 1865
Gov. Oglesby, Adjt. Gen. Haynie and Stephen Hurlbut visit Camp Butler. Oglesby is making arrangements for repairs to the cemetery fence to see that “everything put in the most complete order.”
The hospital at Camp Douglas (Chicago) is closed and patients moved to Camp Butler, near Springfield.
August 14, 1865
The Ladies’ Aid Society of Low Point and Washburn (Woodford County) hold a reception for returned local soldiers. The men of Co. C, 77th Illinois Infantry return the company’s flag to the ladies of Washburn, who presented it to the men in 1862.
A number of Illinois infantry regiments remain in Texas, where they were sent during the summer. A few remain there until early 1866. Their purpose is to pressure the puppet European government that had been imposed on Mexico while the Unites States was distracted by war.
November 22, 1865
Springfield African Americans hold a public reception for the men of the 29th U. S. Colored Infantry. Gov. Richard Oglesby makes a speech welcoming them.