Monday, August 23, 2010

The only statue of Lincoln in military dress is in Dixon, Illinois

The Lincoln Highway, US Route 30, passed through Dixon, Illinois, which is fitting, since Lincoln passed through Ronald Reagan's future boyhood home in 1832.

Lincoln enlisted in the Illinois militia for a 40 day stint to fight in the Black Hawk War, was elected captain, and kept that rank when his company was mustered into the regular army.

This is the only known statue of our 16th president in military garb, on his left side is a sword. Captain Lincoln was based in Dixon, then known as Dixon's Ferry, for a short period. He was mustered out when his enlistment expired, but immediately re-upped, this time as a private.

The Black Hawk War began when Sauk Chief Black Hawk and other Native Americans violated a treaty that stipulated that they stay out of Illinois. Most of the fighting occurred around the northern border of the state. Lincoln never saw combat, but it's believed he assisted in the burial of soldiers who were killed in action.

Lincoln, like Reagan, was blessed with a rollicking sense of humor; he dismissed his military career as consisting of "a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes."

But Dixon's soldier-Lincoln may soon have a rival. Freeport, which was the site of a Lincoln-Douglas Debate, is raising money for a similar statue depicting Honest Abe as a Black Hawk War soldier.

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