That officer was Ulysses S. Grant, and he will
return along with Civil War re-enactors for special events on
Friday, September 23 at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site
and Edwards Place in Springfield. The Springfield activities are
part of a four day Mattoon’s General Grant Days event.
Grant's appearance is a good lead-in for the International Route 66
Festival that starts at 6 p.m. that evening in downtown Springfield.
Like many Route 66 fans Grant liked fast transportation – in his
case, horses – and as President was once pulled over for speeding
his carriage through Washington. In common with many motorists who
exceed the limit today, President Grant paid his fine.
“Like another famous Illinoisan, Ulysses S. Grant began his march
into the history books at the Old State Capitol,” said event
coordinator Steve Thompson. “The September 23 events will highlight
the lesser-known part of Grant's early career, when he was a
recruiter, and a good one at that, for the Union Army.”
Nationally-renowned presenter Kenneth J. Serfass will portray Grant
during the Springfield events. He will give a first-person
presentation from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Old State Capitol's Hall
of Representatives, then from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. he will interact
with and review a contingent of Civil War soldier re-enactors on the
Old State Capitol grounds. The Old State Capitol events are free and
open to the public.
General Grant and the re-enactors will then attend an Illinois State
Historical Society and Landmarks Illinois-sponsored private
reception at Edwards Place in Springfield from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
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The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic
Preservation Agency, includes the Adjutant General's Office where Captain
Ulysses S. Grant came to work in May 1861 to help with the Union recruitment
effort. His success helped him secure a colonel’s commission in the 21st
Illinois Infantry Regiment, and in the summer of 1861 Colonel Grant and the 21st
Illinois Infantry deployed west to Missouri, and began their rise to fame during
the Civil War.
The General Grant events are being held to encourage public support for and
awareness of the Mattoon Civil War Memorial Ellipse and Camp Grant Municipal
Park landscape architecture project in Mattoon, and coincide with activities
September 22 – 25 in Coles County. Mattoon was the site of Camp Grant, a Union
muster camp for Illinois infantry regiments from 1861-1865, which Grant visited
in May of 1861 to enlist Illinois troops to fight in the Civil War.