Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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Congressman-turned-soldier is 'General of the Month' at Old State Capitol

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[December 19, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand, a member of Congress who resigned to fight for the Union, is the "General of the Month" for December at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

McClernand was a friend and ally to Abraham Lincoln, having served with him in the Illinois General Assembly. When war broke out, the military novice was made a brigadier general. He was elevated to high command at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, and he briefly commanded his own army in the operations against Vicksburg.

McClernand clashed with Ulysses S. Grant and eventually was removed from command by Grant. After the war, McClernand became a judge in Springfield and remained a leader in the Democratic Party.

Artifacts relating to McClernand, including a document written by Grant, will be on display at the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield.

The "General of the Month" exhibit is part of the Old State Capitol's ongoing commemoration of the Civil War 150th anniversary. Artifacts from Illinois' Civil War generals, from the well-known to the obscure, are featured each month.

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During the 1840s and 1850s, the Old State Capitol was the scene of debate over issues that led the nation to war in 1861. During the Civil War, as the seat of government, it was the center of the state's wartime mobilization. The Capitol also provided space for local events aiding the needs of local residents as well as soldier relief efforts.

The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The "General of the Month" exhibit is near the adjutant general's office in the rotunda.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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