Under this head, we think it best to give the entire history of Menard County as connected with the various wars in which the United States has been engaged since the State came into the Union. The Black Hawk war was spoken of in the history of the village of Salem; it is therefore unnecessary to repeat what was there said. Ever since the Indian troubles of the country, the Western people have shown the strongest devotion to the interests and honor of the whole country. And when a portion of the frontier citizens of the country, after repeated and long-continued abuses from heartless and despicable neighbors, appealed to the whole country for aid, and a call was made for volunteers. The whole American people were filled with enthusiasm. The citizens of the "Lone Star State," as it has since been called, had for years been engaged in a kind of guerrilla warfare, with varying results; but in 1836, a battle was fought at San Jacinto, wherein Santa Anna, the dictator of Mexico, was captured, and, being held in strict confinement, he was finally induced to sign a treaty acknowledging the independence of Texas. But, in violation of the treaty and of every principle of honor, the republic of Mexico treated Texas and the Texans just as she had previously done. From this time on, petitions were frequently presented to the United States asking admission into the Union. But Mexico, through sheer spite, endeavored to prevent the admission of Texas, by constantly declaring that her reception would be regarded as a sufficient cause for a declaration of war, thinking, perhaps, that this would serve to intimidate the United States. In the Presidential canvass of 1844, this was one of the leading issues before the people, and Mr. Polk being elected, this was taken as a public declaration of the subject. After this, Congress had no hesitancy in granting the petition of Texas, and, on the 1st of March, 1845, formally received her into the sisterhood of States. Mexico at once, in her indignation, broke off all diplomatic relations with the United States, calling home her Minister immediately, which was a clear declaration of war. War was soon declared. Congress passed an act, authorizing the President to accept the services of 50,000 volunteers, and appropriating $10,000,000 for the prosecution of the war. Just at the opening of actual trouble with Mexico, the United States was disputing about the boundary of Oregon, the motto being "54, 40 or fight." But, as we had one war on hand already, it was thought best not to get into trouble with Great Britain, and the boundary was placed at the 40th parallel of north latitude. When the call for volunteers was made, the requisition on Illinois was for "three regiments of infantry or riflemen." As to the pay, that matter was nothing, being only $8 a month. The troops were to be enlisted for a term of twelve months, and the privates were limited to eighty men in a company. The call of the Governor-Ford-was issued May 25, for the organization of the three regiments. Soon the State was alive with almost frantic enthusiasm. The strains of martial music were heard in almost every village and hamlet. The first man to enroll himself a volunteer was the well-known and brave J.J. Hardin. In ten days, thirty-five full companies were raised, and by the middle of June there were no less than forty companies in excess of the call. After the three regiments had rendezvoused at Alton, and had been received and sworn in, Hon. E.D. Baker, member of Congress from the Sangamon District, was authorized by the Secretary of War to raise another regiment in Illinois. The regiment was promptly raised, and was composed of two companies from Sangamon, and one company form each of the following counties: Macon, McLean, De Witt, Logan, Tazewell, Edgar, Perry and "Little Menard." Hon. Thomas L. Harris, of Petersburg, and whose family still reside in that place, was, by general consent, recognized as Captain of the company, though no election was held till some time later. They stopped for a short time at Springfield, where they were partially drilled. At Alton, they were sworn in and received arms. They then removed to Jefferson Barracks, twelve miles below St. Louis, on the Mississippi River. When they reached the barracks, they still had no officers, except Capt. Harris who was tacitly regarded as such. Here an election was held for regimental officers, which resulted in the choice of E.D. Baker as Colonel; the former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, John Moore, of McLean, as Lieutenant Colonel, and Thomas L. Harris, of Petersburg, as Major.
Officers were here elected for the company. A.D. Wright, of Petersburg, was elected Captain; William C. Clary, First Lieutenant; Shelton Johnson, Second Lieutenant; Robert Scott, Third Lieutenant. The whole number of men in the company, mustered in, was eighty-two; these, with Maj. Harris, promoted, made eighty-three men from Menard County actually entering the service. Some others volunteered, but they never went as far as to be mustered into service. So soon as the Fourth Regiment reached the city of Alton, a serious question of rank arose between Col. Baker, of the Fourth, and Col. John J. Hardin, of the First Regiment. This matter was referred to a court of inquiry, composed of Capts. Bishop, Crow, Coffee, Dickey, Elkin, Hicks, Jones, McAdams, Morgan, Roberts and Wiley, and G.T.M. Davis as clerk. After a careful investigation of the whole question, Col. Hardin was declared the senior officer. The men who went from Menard County were the following;
Clayborn Altig, Lewis Atchison, Robert Bishop, Wilson Bess, John Bond, Banister Bond, Greene Bond, Jesse Browne, Preston Berry, Andrew Bell, Oliver Cox, William Close, David Clark, Robert Clary, William Clary, Thomas Clary, Daniel Clary, Franceway Day, Phillip Day, Washington Denton, Aaron Durben, Isaac Estil, Samuel Ely, Elijah Elmore, Napoleon Greer, Isaiah Goldsby, Wade H. Goldsby, Charles Gum, Christopher Goodman, Conover Gum, Evans Greene, Amos Gurnsey, John Garber, Alvin Hornback, William Hutchinson, Peter Hamilton, Elias Hohimer, Aaron Houghton, Michael Hedrick, John Jones, Robert N. Jones, Shelton Johnson, Richard Johnson, Walter W. King, Joseph M. King, Jesse Lukins, Robert Moore, Royal Miller, John Miller, Philemon Morris, T. Nance, Henry Nance, George W. Nance, James Patterson, William Phillips, Cornelius Rourke, Robert Rayburn, William Rhodes, John Ritchie, William Stone, O.H.F. Smith, Daniel Staten, Robert Scott, Richard Smedley, Jonathan Simpson, David R. Short, Robert Smith, Anderson Trent, Robert Trotter, Samuel Tibbs, Owen Thomas, J.P. Walker, John Wright, Enoch Wiseman, John Wiseman, Thomas Watkins, Richard Witt, Capt. A.D. Wright, James Watkins, Benjamin Wiseman, Nelson Yocum, George Yocum.
This list contains eighty-two names, and, with that of Maj. Thomas L. Harris, makes the number of men from Menard County eighty-three in all. This was Company F, in the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. From Jefferson Barracks, William Phillips came back home on furlough, and never returned to the army. At New Orleans, Elias Hohimer received permission to return home, and remained there. All the remainder of the Menard County men, eighty-one in number, boarded the brig Mary Jones and were landed at Point Isabella, at the mouth of the Rio Grande River, in Texas. This was a seven days' voyage, and on the way, two men died, and were buried in the Gulf. After landing, they marched up the Rio Grande toward Camargo. This was a toilsome march, and the climate nor food agreeing with the soldiers, death made fearful havoc among them. Every day's march was marked by a grave. In that short journey, twenty-one men died, among whom were Short, Atchison, Thomas Clary, Joseph M. King; seven others were sent home, being unfit for service, on account of disease. From Camargo, they marched by land to Tampico, a distance of near five hundred miles. On this march, seven more men died, making thirty-seven in all from the ranks by death, and returning to the States. From Tampico, the command sailed to Vera Cruz by the steamship Alabama. In this battle, the company did not lose a man. From there, they marched to Corro Gordo, and entered the battle with forty-two men. In the engagement, three of this company were killed and three severely wounded. George Yocum, Al Hornback and Lieut. Johnson were killed. Robert Scott, John Ritchey and Cornelius Rourke were severely wounded. Mr. Rourke lost his left leg, it being shot off near his body. He still lives, however, an honored member of society. His home is in Petersburg, where he is engaged in the lumber trade. He is now Major in the State militia. The command was discharged shortly after the battle of Corro Gordo, their time having expired, and they reached home in the fall of 1847. By the best information we can get, there are fourteen of those who started out with this company who are still living. The remnant of the company who still survive, are sorely scattered, and it is almost impossible to obtain a correct list of the survivors and the places of their residence. A few, however, still live in this and adjoining counties. Col. Cornelius Rourke, William Hutchinson, Walter W. King and Robert Bishop live in Petersburg. Washington Denton, Charles Gum, Elias Hohimer, Samuel Tibbs, Aaron Houghton and Thomas Watkins are still citizens of Menard County. Dr. J.P. Walker is a successful practitioner of medicine in Mason City, Mason Co., Ill. William Clary lives in Kansas, R.N. Jones is in Iowa, and Richard Witt is perhaps in Nebraska. Royal Miller lives in Sangamon County. Soon the last of them will be gone to their final reward.