— Looking for Lincoln —
When Lincoln called for troops to defend the Union, the men and boys of DeWitt County heeded his urgent request. Some who volunteered were from families who had know and befriended Lincoln during his days as a prairie lawyer and politician, for Lincoln practiced both occupations here.
Others, like German-born twenty-eight-year-old shoemaker Martin Mohrle, were foreign-born DeWitt County residents who answered the call just the same. Some lost their lives on the battlefields were brought back to DeWitt County for interment on this hill, which became a soldiers' burial ground.
Veterans who took their ?final furlough' after the Civil War's conclusion were laid to rest here as well. Martin Mohrle was one of the many who did not make it home. His comrades witnessed his being shot on the battlefield near Atlanta, Georgia, and reported his death; but it is unknown what became of Mohrle's remains.
There is record of his hasty burial on the field, but not his final interment site, nor a government-issued stone with his name upon it. Mohrle is one of the thousands of Union dead who never returned home and whose graves are marked "Unknown."
Color Bearer Corporal Martin Mohrle, 20th Illinois Volunteer Infintry, Company E, mustered in June 13, 1861. In April of 1864, Mohrle returned home to DeWitt County on a brief furlough (granted for re-enlisting for an additional term of service) and married his sweetheart, Mary Robinson. Before he left his new bride to return to the battlefields, Morhle gave her a piece of the tattered flag he so proudly waved. Mohrle was killed in action July 21, 1864, near Atlanta, Georgia, the battle flag captured by Rebels.
Abraham Lincoln first met George B. McClellan in a small, rustic DeWitt County courtroom. At the time, Lincoln, a prairie lawyer, was representing the Illinois Central Railroad. McClellan was an Illinois Central Railroad executive called to testify on the company's behalf.
Waiting for McClellan to arrive, someone in the courtroom asked who he was, to which Lincoln replied that he only knew McClellan to be an Illinois Central Railroad officer. As political upheaval and war clouds loomed on the horizon, Lincoln and McClellan's paths crossed once more. Lincoln was elected President of the United States, and McClellan rose to be Union General-in-Chief.
It began as a favorable arrangement, but ultimately failed. Greatly dissatisfied with McClellan's procrastination and sluggish military tactics, Lincoln removed him from command. During the following Presidential race of 1864, McClellan ran against Lincoln as the Democratic Party Presidential nominee.