Camp Dunne, 1916 (photo)

camp dunne

This entry was corrected and expanded in 2024.

Camp Dunne was a temporary mustering facility at the Illinois State Fairgrounds prior to the United States’ entry into World War I during the military callup that followed Pancho Villa’s raid of Columbus, N.M., in 1916.

The camp, named after Gov. Edward F. Dunne, initially was expected to house up to 10,000 Illinois National Guard members, called up from around the state. The camp provided a site where Guard members could undergo physical exams and be armed, supplied and drill before shipping out by train to New Mexico and elsewhere.

Ultimately, about 8,000 soldiers were hurriedly organized and dispatched to the Southwest from Camp Dunne between June 23 and July 5 (including the Chicago-based 1st Infantry, whose quarters are shown in the photo above). Active military operations were over by then, however, and no Illinois Guard units saw combat.

Camp Dunne was kept open for a few more weeks to accommodate two other regiments, the Fifth and Sixth Infantry, which were already scheduled for two weeks of training in Springfield. Camp Dunne closed permanently on Aug. 14.

The Mexican Expedition served as a rehearsal for callups when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. Soldiers again were stationed temporarily at the fairgrounds at the start of the war, and National Guard members housed in the Dome Building might have caused the fire that destroyed the building in August 1917.

By then, however, Illinois had a new governor, Frank O. Lowden, and a new temporary muster camp – Camp Lowden, which was west of Eighth Street and north of Sangamon Avenue. That property is part of the fairgrounds today but wasn’t in 1917. The state didn’t expand the fairgrounds westward from Eighth Street to Fifth Street until 1924.

Photo credit: Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library. 

Hat tip: To Stephanie Martin of the Sangamon Valley Collection for pointing out SangamonLink’s original error in describing the Camp Dunne photo (see first sentence).

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society. Learn how to support the Society. 





Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.

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