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early settlement of st. charles

Camp Kane and the Civil War
camp kane

St. Charles played an important role in the history of the Civil War as a training ground, recruiting center, and home to a famous general of the war, John Farnsworth. Farnsworth was an attorney, founder of the Republican Party, congressman, as well as a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. In 1858, he advised Lincoln during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates and in 1860 nominated Lincoln for president during the Republican Party Convention. Farnsworth was also called to the bedside of the dying President after Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in 1865. Without Farnsworth’s influence, Camp Kane would not have been so successful.

Illinois was a hotbed of anti-slave ideals and St. Charles was no exception. General Farnsworth started a training camp for troops and cavalry (horse) units in 1861 on property which he owned along the east bank of the Fox River. Camp Kane (now Langum Park) trained over 1000 men.

camp kane

Two of the units to come out of Camp Kane included the 8th Illinois and 17th Illinois Cavalry Regiments, both instrumental in the Northern victory. Marcellus Jones of the 8th Illinois Cavalry is reputed by some historians to have fired the first shot at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Despite its size, St. Charles gave one of the largest quotas of troops in all of Kane County. St. Charles residents such as General Farnsworth, Captain Elliott, Major Van Patten, Major John Waite, Captain Beach, Captain McGuire, Colonel Gillett, Major (Judge) Barry, Lieutenant Durant, and Dr. Crawford all aided in the war effort. In addition, at least three women from St. Charles also served in the war, including Ophelia Amigh, Lucy Whipple Campbell Kaiser, and Emma Lake. These names are among the most important in the history of our town.

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