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46 the war is over

Mound City National Cemetery

That quote was from Lt. General U.S. Grant, and the statement was prompted by the exultation of Union troops around the McLean house at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, following the surrender of that part of the Confederate Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia, by General Robert Edward Lee.

I was reminded of that quote when I visited the Mound City National Cemetery this past Veteran’s Day. I went there because I expected to see a ceremony, which they actually hold on the Saturday prior to the holiday. Instead I found a more private experience.

The most noticeable feature in the cemetery is probably the large monument erected to soldiers of the United States who could not be identified after their deaths. Now our military issues tags to our soldiers, including their identification. In the War of the 1860s, soldiers who were about to go into battle, would sometimes take a scrap of paper and write their names and addresses and pin this to their clothing, so they could be identified and their families notified in case they were killed. It was a practical, though it may seem fatalistic, response to the conditions in which they found themselves.

The monument includes names carved in stone, though now weathered by time and the elements, from all the states remaining loyal to the Union in the period between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865. The sacrifice of these brave men, as timeworn as the memory is, dwarfs the imposing size of their monument.

Along the path to that monument, there was a gray stone, just off to my left as I approached, placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This stone is there to honor the sacrifice of their soldiers, whose courage was no less than the courage of their Union counterparts. It reminded me that under this soil, they are all American soldiers, whether they were from Virginia, the first sustained English settlement in North America, or Kansas, the state which joined the Union just three months before Confederate batteries first fired on Ft. Sumter.

All of the people beneath this sod are American soldiers, Marines, sailors, or airmen. They served in our wars since 1861, the Union soldiers in combat, the Confederates went to Glory as prisoners of war. The more recent internments have been from those who served in subsequent conflicts.

The cemetery is found just outside of Mounds, a little town along the Ohio River Scenic Roadway. If you are traveling along Interstate 57, take Exit 8, Mounds Road, turn left on County Road 8, toward Mounds City. Turn right on Illinois 37, and drive through Mounds City, until you see the cemetery on your left. For more information, you can look at their website at

The flag over this place of honor is Old Glory, though soldiers who served under the Stars and Bars also rest here. There has been a great deal of controversy over those remembering the service of Confederate veterans over the years, particularly in the vicinity of Camp Douglas, the Confederate prison camp. The quote I used to begin this blog was in the spirit of unity, from a resident of Galena. I’d like to close with a plea for unity, from a resident of Springfield.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, across this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

–A. Lincoln, March 4, 1861

 “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again”www.moundcitynationalcemetery.org or contact them at 618-748-9041. There is a caretaker’s cottage on site. In fact, when I drove past the cemetery, I stopped in at a convenience store for directions, and the lady directed me to the caretaker, who had the day off, since it was Veteran’s day, and just happened to be in there for coffee. He was very helpful.

47 lincolns stovepipe hat


Lincoln in His Stovetop Hat

Lincoln’s stovepipe hat is the artifact of the month for February at the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.   If you want to see this famous piece of iconic history it will be on display through February 28th.   The hat is seldom displayed for public viewing. Each month, different major artifact is featured from the Taper Collection. 


If you have not been to the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield this would be a great opportunity to stop in.   Standing in the Plaza is the Lincoln family in 1861 to greet you.  Use your own camera and take picture of your family standing with them.  Send us a copy at www.enjoyillinois@gmail.com to post on our flicker page.

“Before there was central heating, sealed carriages or soot-free train cars, a traveling attorney like Lincoln had to walk or ride a horse from town to town across the prairie of central Illinois.  He also had to carry his legal papers in a dry place.  Solving both problems, Lincoln kept his head warm and dry under this beaver-fur stovepipe hat, and he tucked his letters inside the hatband.  It was his ‘office in his hat,’ according to a fellow attorney, and everyone on the circuit knew this amusing characteristic of Lincoln,” said ALPLM Lincoln Curator James Cornelius.  “He gave the hat to an Illinois farmer whose fences were broken up by anti-Lincoln neighbors in a time when the political hostilities were fierce.  Yet this hat, unlike the two silk hats remaining from his presidential years, will last for centuries.  It will be our permanent reminder of his Illinois legacy.”

 The artifact of the month will be displayed in a special case in the Presidential Museum’s Treasures Gallery and will feature interpretive text explaining its significance.  These displays will also highlight the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation’s Permanent Home Campaign.  The $27 million fundraising drive, established to ensure that the 1,500-item Louise and Barry Taper Collection remain together as a collection and are preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of the public, began in 2008 and continues through 2013.  The story of each artifact as told by the ALPLM’s Lincoln Curator may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKOIYzlxwRE.

48 for the love of chocolate

If you love chocolate then you will want to attend the French Pastry School’s annual benefit on Saturday, February 5th.  The event has been sold out in previous years as a result the event moved to Merchandise Mart to accommodate more guests.  I have had the pleasure of attending this event in the past and look forward to going on Saturday.   It is an event for all your senses.  Upon entering the venue your sense of smell is assaulted by the sweet smell of chocolate, your eyes are amazed by the displays, you taste the rich creaminess of chocolate and you hear exclamations for the Love of Chocolate.  For the Love of Chocolate will showcase cocoa-theamed dishes, many local celebrity chefs including Rick Bayless, Graham Elliott, and many more. Guests will also be able to enjoy entertainment, chocolate body painting and belly dancing! 

The For the Love of Chocolate Foundation proceeds benefit scholarships for the French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago for training in the pastry arts.  The French Pastry School, founded by chefs Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne, is considered one of the most popular pastry institutions in the country, and is considered a gem in Chicago.  They offer individual classes too if you would like to enhance your baking skills.   

The event is $200 per person. This event is black-tie, men are welcome to attend in a suit and tie.      

For more details and to purchase tickets follow the link below:

www.frenchpastryschool.com or www.fortheloveofchocolatefoundation.org

49 the first interstate

When was the first federally funded interstate constructed?? Not the one we know today…..the first one?…….  1806 !! Yup, before the Eisenhower Interstate system there was, that’s right, the Washington interstate system (yes, ‘THE’ George Washington….). Although it wasn’t called that, George Washington did have plans to construct a federally funded road, from Maryland to carry settlers to the edge of the frontier, and in 1806, Congress allocated funds for the project. Some know it as the Cumberland road, taking it’s name from it’s origin point, Cumberland, Maryland, but most know it as the National Road. This interstate corridor ran from Cumberland, Maryland, all the way to Illinois’s own city of Vandalia.

A timber used in construction of the National Road

The National Road brought thousands of settlers to the frontier, and although funding stopped for the road at Vandalia, the road eventually stretched all the way to St. Louis, being the major crossing point over the Mississippi. The current Illinois Rt.40 pretty much follows the path of the original road and many remnants of the old road can be found traveling the Rt40 corridor.
The city of Vandalia is pretty proud of it’s heritage as being the destination for so many travelers for hundreds of years, and they’ve established the National Road Interpretive Center there. Housing relics of life on the road in the earliest days of our nation, this hub of information exists to serve tourists, historians and anyone else wishing to better understand this important time in Illinois’ history.
The Center will be celebrating it’s one year anniversary on February 12th, 2011 with an open house, featuring an authentic conestoga wagon, the ‘semi-trailer’ of the early road. These giant prairie schooners ferried materials, goods and man power from the east coast to the heart of the nation, helping to build the Nation as we know it today.
Stop by the center and say hello if you’re traveling in the area, or plan a day trip to Vandalia, the States first Capitol, and all the Illinois history it has to share!

Find on Map

-Ed Baumgarten

50 the eagle our national emblem
The bald eagle was chosen on June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America.  It was selected for it distinguishing qualities of the bird such as long life span, great strength and majestic looks. 

If you never experienced the wonderful bird in flight, it really is an amazing site.  I was fascinated by the size of their wing span which can reach up to 90 inches.  I had the pleasure of seeing this fabulous creature fly to a nest to feed its young.   If you have not had a chance to see these birds in flight you can see them for yourself near various waterways in Illinois. 

You can spot the wintering bird at The Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower.  The Tower will host eagle events on Saturdays and Sundays throughout January and February. Take a tour of the Tower and see the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, all while enjoying the bird’s-eye-view of the migration patterns of the American Bald Eagle along the Mississippi .

Each weekend at the Tower will host a series of exciting eagle events, including artisans, demonstrations, hikes, workshops and more.  For more information about the Lewis Clark Confluence Tower, call (618) 251-9101 or go to http://confluencetower.com/calendar-of-events.cfm.

A few fun facts about bald eagles:

Stature – bones are hollow; weigh 10 – 14lbs. and approx. 7,000 feathers, wingspan 72 to 90 inches

Size – The female bald eagles is 35 to 37 inches, slightly larger than the male.

Flight – fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet and achieve speeds of 30 to 35 mph

Longevity – may live as long as thirty years, because they are top of the food chain

Eagles may live as long as thirty years, because they are top of the food chain.  They are strong swimmers along with their excellent eye sight can spot their prey from high altitudes.   Their diet is mainly fish, dead and decaying flesh.  They like to migrate near their food source, you can find them along many of Illinois water ways. 

Check out the other Illinois areas for eagle watching near you:

Bald Eagle Days at Pere Marquette

IL Route 100, Great River Road
Grafton, IL 62037

Phone: (618) 786-3323

Web site: http://www.visitalton.com/visitors-events-details.cfm?ID=1527

Bald Eagle Trolley Tours

Rt 178 & Rt. 71
Utica, IL 61373

Phone: (800) 868-7625

Web site: http://www.starvedrocklodge.com

Bob Motz-Professional Bald Eagle Watching Tours

Illinois and Iowa Quad Cities
Rock Island, IL 61201

Phone: (309) 788-8389

Email: eaglemotz@aol.com

Eagle Watching – Union County Refuge

2755 Refuge Road,
Jonesboro, IL 62952

Phone: (618) 833-5175

Web site: http://dnr.state.il.us/Lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R5/UNIONCO.htm

Eagle Watching in Alton

Route 100
Alton, IL 60642

Phone: (618) 465-6676

Web site: http://www.greatriverroad.com/Eagles/eagleCover.htm

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

950 N. 27th Road
Ottawa, IL 61350

Phone: (815) 667-4054

Take a picture of these fabulous creatures and send it to us to post on our flicker account.   Submit all photos to: enjoyillinois@gmail.com.  In your email, be sure to include your full name, the title for your image and where in Illinois you captured your eagle shot.