Category Archives: Military

Western Cartridge Co. explosion, 1920

Four men were killed on June 24, 1920, when an explosion and fire wrecked part of a smokeless gunpowder plant northeast of Springfield. The Western Cartridge Co., based in East Alton, opened the plant in 1915. Powder manufactured in Springfield … Continue reading

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Dr. Daniel Ottis (World War I surgeon)

Dr. Daniel M. Ottis (1870-1929) was a prominent surgeon in Springfield who also was known for organizing the Sangamon County-based Unit W of the U.S. Medical Service during World War I. The Illinois State Journal summarized Ottis’ career in his … Continue reading

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Flu epidemic, 1918-20

Health officials closed churches, schools and theaters, barred street gatherings and set up a special hospital at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, but the influenza epidemic of 1918 nonetheless killed more than 500 county residents. Second and third waves of flu appeared … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Medicine, Military, Public health | 2 Comments

Black Civil War veterans buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery

At least 28 African-American Civil War veterans are buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, according to Kathleen Heyworth’s Private Lewis Martin and African-American Civil War Soldiers in Springfield, Illinois (2015). The following list, taken from Heyworth’s research, lists each … Continue reading

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Black Civil War soldier’s POW experience

Isaac Gaskin (ca. 1847-1900), born a slave in Mississippi, served with the 29th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War and was captured by Confederates in the botched Battle of the Crater outside Petersburg, Va., on July 30, … Continue reading

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Sangamon Ordnance Plant

Dozens of seemingly out-of-place structures dot farm fields west of Illiopolis, the last reminders of what once was one of the U.S.’s largest producers of World War II artillery ammunition. From 1942 to 1945, the Sangamon Ordnance Plant produced 24 … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Agriculture, Buildings, Communities, Disasters, Industry, Military, Transportation, Women | 15 Comments

Lewis Martin, 29th U.S. Colored Troops

This entry has been updated — ed. Lewis Martin (1840-92) was a free black man who served in the 29th regiment. U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. He was severely wounded in the Battle of the Crater before Petersburg, … Continue reading

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Hall-Hagler chapter, Disabled American Veterans

Springfield’s Hall-Hagler chapter of the Disabled American Veterans is named in honor of two World War I casualties who hailed from the city. Sgt. Joe Hall (1891-1918) died during the waning hours of the war – at 8:45 a.m. on … Continue reading

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Victory Loan Flying Circus, 1919

The Victory Loan Flying Circus, a barnstorming group of World War I pilots using WWI combat aircraft, put on a show for thousands of central Illinoisans in front of the Illinois State Fairgrounds Grandstand on April 15, 1919. An unbilled … Continue reading

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Sangamon County Lithuanians in World War I

More than 50,000 Lithuanian-Americans fought for the United States in World War I. This remarkable number was later leveraged to lobby U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to recognize the newly independent Lithuanian state that emerged from the War’s aftermath. The vast … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Lithuanians, Military | 3 Comments