In the center of the intersection of Washington and Fayette streets in Bunker Hill stands a statue of Abraham Lincoln, a gift to the city by a Civil War commander as a token of appreciation to the Bunker Hill men who served in his company during the war.
Early in the Civil War, President Lincoln called for troops and each state was assigned a quota. Illinois (and some other states) filled its quotas quickly and there was no room for Illinois men to enlist in Illinois companies. Instead, they went to neighboring states and enlisted. A few regiments were later given new names and credited to Illinois. Others, though, did not, and the Illinois men served throughout the war with the out-of-state units.
One such unit was Company B of the First Missouri Voluntary Cavalry, which was raised by Captain Charles Clinton of St. Louis, (portrait above), and was comprised of men from Illinois, Missouri and other states. After the war Capt. Clinton, in a token of appreciation for the Bunker Hill men in his command, donated a statue of Abraham Lincoln which was erected in Bunker Hill, Illinois. Route 159 detours around it on each side. Company B was organized at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri on Aug. 1, 1861.
In addition to the Bunker Hill men, enlistments were from other towns in Illinois as well as from other states. Captain Clinton was company commander. Elisha S. Williams, first lieutenant, was promoted to captain July 9, 1863. Second Lt. John Baird, also later became captain. Both officers were from Bunker Hill. Capt. Clinton resigned Jan. 9, 1863.
Bunker Hill privates were David Brinkman, a veteran soldier; (veteran soldiers re-enlisted after their original three-year term expired) John F. Cash, sadler; Frederick Dabel, August Gehner, bugler and a veteran soldier; Henry Geist, Herman C. Hawsker, a veteran soldier who was a prisoner of war; William C. S. Johnson, Christian Keunike, a bugler and veteran soldier; George A. Treadwell, James Thompson, and William E. Zimmerman. James G. Rumbolz, a veteran soldier, and William Rumbolz were from Woodburn.
Sergeants, from Bunker Hill, were Q. M. Alonzo Ridgeley, a veteran soldier, and John Brandenburger; Corporals were August Kardell and John B. Johnson, veteran soldiers, and John Fichkte.
A number of Bunker Hill men were transferred to other units. William Alexander went to N.C.S. August, 1861. Charles F. Maxilhardt, to N.C.S. in October, 1861. Sgt. C. E. Dalrymple transferred to the 14th Illinois infantry Nov. 1, 1861, as did Jesse McKinzie on Oct. 1, 1861. Cpl. Hugo C. C. Botefuhr was promoted to lieutenant and transferred to the First Arkansas Cavalry in July, 1863 and Cpl. Henry W. Gildenmerster was promoted to second lieutenant and transferred to the First Arkansas Cavalry in July, 1863.
Early discharges went to Benjamin F. Spence, Oct. 1, 1862; Louis Podighe, March 9, 1863; Joseph P. Emmerson, March 14, 1863; and George McPherson, wounded at Sugar Creek, Arkansas May 1, 1863.
Eight Bunker Hill men died in service. George A. Adams died Sept. 24, 1864. Samuel Cozzens in May 1863, Cpl. Philander Nesbit on April 27, 1862, Henry A. Wieck on Dec. 1, 1861, Levi J. Zimmerman in October 1861, Henry Jipp on July 23, 1864, George W. Link in April, 1863, John McDonald in December, 1861 and W. M. Singler who died Nov. 23, 1863 from wounds in action.
Company B saw action mostly in Southern Missouri and Arkansas.
After the war, Capt. Clinton had high regard for Bunker Hill and became friends with Mrs. Moses True, widow of the founder of Bunker Hill. He indicated to her his desire to do something for the men who had been in his command, and the statue of Lincoln was decided upon.
The cost for the base of the statue was raised by local subscription. The bronze casting of Lincoln was shipped from Philadelphia and the granite for the lower part from Vermont. The statue was unveiled Sept. 7, 1904. A plaque mounted on the statue has inscribed:
The Lincoln Statue was sculpted by William Grandville Hastings, an English artist who died in 1902 at age 34, before any of his statues were mounted. Capt. Clinton collaborated with the artist in designing the monument.
Capt. Clinton donated a similar statue, complete with the kneeling “Liberty,” to the city of Cincinnati, where he was residing at the time. It is located on the Avondale Public School grounds at the southwest corner of Reading Road and Rockdale Avenue.
Two other castings of the sculpture were cast. Neither have the kneeling “Liberty.” One is located before the Greene County courthouse in Jefferson, Iowa. The fourth is in Grandview Park, Sioux City, Iowa. Both were donated by persons other than Capt. Clinton.
When the war started, Charles Clinton was a clerk at a large commission house in St. Louis. Because of his education and experience in business, he was commissioned an officer in a troop of cavalry stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and was assigned the duty of enlisting a company of cavalry. Many of those he enlisted were from Bunker Hill and Woodburn.
Charles Clinton was born Nov. 23, 1830 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. His grandfather Patterson was a captain in the revolutionary war.
He left home at age 13 and went to New York City to get an education. He soon moved to Oswego, Illinois to teach school. After a few years he took a position in a large commission house in St. Louis, a job he immediately resigned when war broke out.
After the war he went to New Orleans, where he managed a shipping company. He was named by President Grant as Superintendent of the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. In 1872 he was elected state auditor for Louisiana as part of the Republican reconstruction government. He was impeached, charged with charging “illegal warrants,” a political charge which the state legislature failed to convict. He was later tried in civil court on the same offense, which resulted in a hung jury. After the trial he resigned as auditor and in 1887 moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. He died Feb. 24, 1915 at age 85 while on a fishing trip to New York State.