The City of Quincy has several connections to the Civil War. Quincy was, at one time, home to Sen. Stephen Douglas, Gen. Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss, Dr. Samuel Everett, Gen. George Pickett, Gen. James D. Morgan, and Orville and Eliza Browning. Both Lincoln and Grant visited the city; a number of Quincy women served as nurses throughout the conflict; and at one time, because of Quincy’s proximity to the Mississippi River, Quincy was home to five military hospitals.

One of the least-known Civil War treasures in Quincy is historic Woodland Cemetery. Created in 1846 when city founder, politician, and later Gov. John Wood donated land to the town for a public cemetery, Woodland was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. It contains approximately 50 acres of beautiful rolling hills, much foliage and over 60,000 burial spots. Woodland also contains a Soldier’s Monument provided by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, a local Civil War aid society. Created by artist Cornelius G. Volk, this thirty-foot towering marble pillar was dedicated to Union soldiers in 1867.

Over the past few years, two local groups, the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County and the Tri-States Civil War Round Table, have undertaken a project to upgrade gravesites of Quincyans who were involved in the War Between the States. Informational markers have been provided, and some grave stones have been erected or refurbished. The cemetery sexton and a local monument company have also been instrumental in this project, and thus far, five grave sites have been improved.

The first burial spot chosen was that of William Alexander Richardson, an important Democratic United States Senator, and a veteran of the Mexican War. Born in Kentucky, Richardson moved to Quincy shortly after the Mexican War and served several terms in Congress. In 1856, he was defeated in a race for Illinois governor but was soon after appointed Territorial Governor of Nebraska. Richardson was twice offered a Brigadier General’s commission by Lincoln during the Civil War but declined citing poor health.

The unmarked plot for former slave William Hall Dallas was the second site selected for improvement. Dallas was born in 1844, probably in South Carolina, and eventually made his way to Quincy and then to Canada before enlisting in the 55th Massachusetts in 1863. Dallas was seriously wounded at the Battle of James River in July 1864 and spent a year recovering before being discharged and returning to Quincy. In 1873, he became the city’s first Black police officer. Dallas was killed in the line of duty in 1876 while attempting to arrest suspected burglars. In addition to erecting the military headstone for Dallas, the groups installed a similar marker for his wife, Virginia, who was buried beside him.

Martin Hawkins, a Civil War veteran from the 33rd Ohio, was the third individual honored. Sgt. Hawkins was awarded the Medal of Honor for his participation in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. Hawkins was a member of a volunteer unit led by civilian James Andrews whose goal was to steal the Confederate locomotive “The General” in Marietta, Ga., and destroy railroad bridges and tracks between Marietta and Chattanooga, Tenn. Hawkins and a fellow soldier became separated from the group; therefore, Hawkins was not captured and hanged as were Andrews and seven others involved. Hawkins eventually made his way back to Union lines safely and arrived in Quincy soon after Appomattox.

Next to be refurbished was the grave of Gen. James Dada Morgan, a prominent Quincy businessman and banker who moved to Adams County in 1834. Before distinguishing himself in the Civil War, Morgan served in both the Illinois Mormon and the Mexican Wars. Morgan’s outstanding leadership at the 1865 Battle of Bentonville, N.C., ended his military career, which also included service at Corinth, Tullahoma, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as the March to the Sea. Historian Shelby Foote described Morgan as a “workhorse who had risen by fighting hard.” Prior to moving to Quincy, Morgan, who had been raised in a seafaring Boston family, had sailed on a merchant vessel and had been involved in a mutiny on the way to the East Indies.

The most recent recognition service honored prominent Quincy native Louise Maertz, who was a member of Dorothea Dix’s Army Nurse Corps during the Civil War. Maertz served in Quincy and on hospital ships plying the Mississippi, as well as at Vicksburg, Helena, New Orleans, and St. Louis before returning to Quincy at the end of the conflict. She dedicated the rest of her life to helping others. She sent money to starving Europeans, as well as to Jane Addams’ Chicago Hull House, and served on the Board of Lady Managers of Blessing Hospital where she funded a men’s ward in honor of her father. She was also instrumental in saving the John Wood Mansion from destruction in 1906. Having been well-educated in Quincy and “on the continent,” Maertz put her academic abilities to good use and wrote “New Method for the Study of English Literature” which became a standard college text.

The Historical Society, the Tri-States Civil War Round Table, the Woodland Cemetery Board and staff, and Harrison Monuments are committed to continuing to improve burial sites for Quincy’s Civil War citizens. As in the past, each renovation will be accompanied by a dedication service which includes appropriate remarks about the citizen being honored, unveiling of the stone or informational marker and military honors offered by local American Legion Post 37. Members of the Legion donate their time to perform this sacred ritual and having the Legion fire three volleys and provide taps adds an appropriate level of gravitas to the ceremony, as it shows the respect which the city of Quincy has for its dead.

Sources

Young, Beth. " My Country Is the World." Illinois Heritage. May-June. 2020.

Coffey, Justin. "First Black Policeman Killed in the Line of Duty." Quincy Herald Whig. January 10, 2018.

Costigan, David. "Common Soldier's General: James Dada Morgan. Quincy Herald Whig. June 10, 2019.

Dittmer, Arlis. "Nurse Unselfishly Cared for Civil War Soldiers." Quincy Herald Whig. November 1, 2019.

Great River Genealogical Society. Woodland Cemetery 1846 to 1990. Quincy, Illinois. 1992.

Landrum, Carl. "Martin Hawkins: Civil War Raider Who Missed the Train." Quincy Herald Whig. December 31. 1989.

"The Politicians." Mr. Lincoln and Friends. Lehrman Institute. http://www.mrlincolnandfriends.org.

Beth Young is a retired Quincy educator. After thirty three years in the Quincy Public Schools, she held part time instructional positions at both JWCC and QU. She holds degrees from Quincy College and NIU, and did additional graduate work at Oxford University.

The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County is preserving the Governor John Wood Mansion, the History Museum on the Square, the 1835 Log Cabin, the Livery, the Lincoln Gallery displays, and a collection of artifacts and documents that tell the story of who we are. This award-winning column is written by members of the Society. For more information visit hsqac.org or email info@hsqac.org.

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