Friday, February 1, 2013
A resolution was passed in April, 1861, seeking to secede Williamson County Illinois from the Union with the intent of taking the rest of Southern Illinois with it. It was repealed shortly afterward at gunpoint, due to the arrival of Federal troops. However, Williamson and Jackson Counties did send volunteers to make up Company “G” for the 15th Tennessee (Originally called the Illinois Company) and met their fellow Williamson County residents on the battlefield in Belmont Missouri in 1861.
Former Illinois governor John Reynolds declared that "the revolution in the South is the greatest demonstration of human greatness and grandeur that was ever performed on the globe." A significant number of Illinoisians also believed that the federal government lacked the authority to prevent secession. Even the Ottawa abolitionist G.W. Bassett asserted the "absolute and unqualified right of the people of any State of this Union to dissolve their political connections with the General Government whenever they choose."
Southern Illinois became a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. The Cairo Gazette declared, "The sympathies of our people are mainly with the South." A public, outdoor meeting in Pope County echoed the South's right to secede, and a rally in Williamson County sought to split Egypt from Illinois and join the Confederacy.
Photo: Lt. Joseph Specht, 15th Tennessee Infantry