Lincoln's Neighbors and the Civil War

Modern reenactors dressed as Union soldiers
Modern reenactors as Union Civil War soldiers

NPS

Eager to Serve

On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops began firing on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, triggering the bloodiest conflict in American history: the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 troops to suppress the rebellion of the southern states. On April 16, 1861, Illinois Governor Richard Yates responded to the President’s request by calling for 6,000 volunteers from his state. Illinoisans were eager to serve, and the state quickly raised 100,000 volunteers. Throughout the course of the war, Illinois contributed nearly 260,000 soldiers to the Union Army. Of those, fourteen percent would not survive. Typifying the contributions of a typical northern city, Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois contributed many men and resources to the Civil War. Even a few of Abraham Lincoln’s former neighbors, who lived within the present-day four-block area comprising Lincoln Home National Historic Site, would answer the President’s call to arms.

 
Photo of a middle-older aged man with white hair in a suit
Jesse K. Dubois was Lincoln's close friend and neighbor

NPS

Neighbors and Friends

For 17 years, Lincoln and his family lived in a diverse Springfield neighborhood made up of European immigrants, African-Americans, widows, widowers, lawyers and politicians. Lincoln considered all of his neighbors as friends—even those who did not share his same political ideas. George Shutt was a staunch Democrat who campaigned against Lincoln during the election of 1860. But Shutt respected his neighbor, and after Lincoln’s election, he often voiced his support for the President.

The Lincolns had many close friends in their neighborhood. Jesse K. Dubois, a fellow Republican, named a son after Mr. Lincoln. Julia Sprigg was close friends with Mrs. Lincoln, and her daughter would often babysit the Lincoln boys.

The respect Lincoln’s neighbors held for him and the ideals he fought for during the Civil War was evident in their willingness to serve, or allow family members to serve, in the Civil War. Lincoln’s neighbors knew from experience that a peaceful coexistence between people of different races, ethnicities, occupations and backgrounds was possible. They were willing to offer their lives to fight for that ideal and for President Lincoln, the man they knew as a neighbor . . . and a friend.

 

Did You Know?

Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, served as a soldier in the Civil War. He was a member of Ulysses S. Grant’s staff and was present when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant on April 9, 1865.

 

Soldiers from Lincoln's Neighborhood

 
Aerial Map of site, with different numbers: 17 & 18 are in northwest; 9, 10, 20 in north center; 19 in northeast; 2 in center at Lincoln Home, 1, 14, 16, 15, 8, 3 are in center east; 4, 13, 12 center west; 6, 5, 2 are center south
  1. Alfred V. Arnold – 20 years old, served as a Private with the 7th IL Volunteer Infantry and a Lieutenant with the 133rd IL Volunteer Infantry
  2. Mason Brayman – 42 years old, served as a Major General with the 29th IL Volunteer Infantry. He lived in the neighborhood two times—once as a renter in the Lincoln Home and once as a renter in what is now called the Shutt House
  3. Elbridge Cook –served as an Unassigned IL Volunteer
  4. Albert Corneau – 18 years old, served as a Musician with the 152nd IL Volunteer Infantry
  5. Lincoln Dubois – 30 years old, served as a Corporal with the 70th IL Volunteer Infantry
  6. William A. Dubois – 21 years old, served as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 76th IL Volunteer Infantry
  7. Albert F. Gourley – 18 years old, served as a Private with the 133rd IL Volunteer Infantry. He rented a house that is no longer standing
  8. Washington Irwin – 21 years old, served as a Private with the 133rd IL Volunteer Infantry
  9. James Kent – 19 years old, served as a Musician with the 7th IL Volunteer Infantry. The Kents lived where the NPS Conference Center stands today
  10. Josiah P. Kent – 18 years old, served as a Private with the 133rd IL Volunteer Infantry.
  11. George Lyon – served as a Musician with the 116th IL Volunteer Infantry
  12. Frederick Sprigg – 25 years old, served as a Private with the 7th IL Volunteer Infantry and a Lieutenant with the 10th IL Volunteer Cavalry
  13. John Sprigg – 19 years old, served as a Sergeant Major with the 114th IL Volunteer Infantry
  14. Charles W. Springer – 19 years old, served with the 133rd IL Volunteer Infantry. The Springers lived across from the Lincolns prior to the Arnold family (in what is now called the Arnold House)
  15. Francis Springer – 54 years old, served as a Chaplain with the 10th IL Volunteer Cavalry.
  16. John G. Springer – 18 years old, served as a Quartermaster Sergeant with the 10th IL Volunteer Cavalry
  17. William Wallace – 56 years old, served with an unknown regiment. The Wallace family lived in a house where the Grace Lutheran Church stands today
  18. William F. Wallace – 18 years old, served as a Private with the 7th IL Volunteer Infantry
  19. Joseph E. Woods – 28 years old, served as a Sergeant with the 124th IL Volunteer Infantry
  20. Thomas A. Worthen – 21 years old, served as a Lieutenant with the 118th IL Volunteer Infantry.
 

References

Victor Hicken, Illinois in the Civil War (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991). 1860 United States Census

Wayne C. Temple, By Square and Compass: The Saga of the Lincoln Home (Mayhaven Publishing, 2002).

National Park Service “Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System,” www.itd.nps.gov/cwss.

Last updated: May 13, 2021

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