The book, Cease Firing ... a Call to Duty, is now ready for you to order! Simply fill out the form on the Contact page and you will be contacted as soon as possible. Cease Firing is the culmination of more than four years of delving into the lives of the men and women named on the Soldier's Monument in Plainfield, Illinois. These veterans served their country during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.
Captain Edward S. McAllister rests in the Plainfield Township Cemetery and at the base of his headstone appear these words ... "Cease Firing." Capt. McAllister led the first group of enlisted men from Plainfield during a three-month term of service in the Civil War, being stationed mainly at Cairo, Illinois. He then was Captain of Battery D of the 1st IL Light Artillery. This regiment distinguished themselves by their bravery and military skill and are honored by several monuments within the Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, TN. For all the horrors of war that Captain McAllister and the other soldiers experienced during the war, "Cease Firing" seems to be a very simple but powerful final message.
On October 12, 1924, this monument was erected to honor those soldiers who had "gone out" from Plainfield. The monument stood in downtown Plainfield on the front lawn of the Congregational Church. (Now known as Plymouth Congregational Church.) In the 1950s, the monument was traded to a monument company in order to raise money for a new eternal flame monument located along Route 59, one block south of Main Street in Plainfield. The monument later was found in the yard of Bill Jacob's Chevrolet dealership in Joliet, Illinois - polished clean of all the names. Over the years, attempts were made by Plainfield residents Dorothy Moss Lambert, Chuck Davy and Norman Mueller, as well as others, to have the monument returned to Plainfield. In 2006, Commander Kevin Greco (Plainfield Police Department) and David Countryman (Plainfield Public Works Department) were instrumental in the Village of Plainfield purchasing the monument from Bill Jacobs' Chevrolet. The names were re-engraved and the monument was installed within Settlers' Park on the west side of town. After more than 50 years, the monument had come home.
More than 200 men and young boys from Plainfield served in the Civil War. Quite a few never returned home and, of those that were lucky enough to survive, many returned with their health ruined. Whether it was from wounds incurred during battle, chronic diarrhea contracted by poor water supplies or rheumatism caused by exposure to the elements, many veterans continued to suffer for the remainder of their lives. One young Plainfield man, Rufus Bolton, died while a prisoner at the dreaded Andersonville Camp. Excerpts from letters written by Rufus as well as other Plainfield soldiers, appear in the book.
Four men from Plainfield served in the short-lived Spanish-American War: Frank Gage, Elba Kelly, John McLaughlin and Hiram Williams.
Among the World War I veterans whose names are engraved on the Plainfield Soldiers' Monument, three young men from Plainfield died during that war. John Swackhamer was killed in action in France in 1918 and his remains are interred in the Meusse-Argonne Cemetery. Clay McCauley and Varley Pennington succumbed to disease. Two women also served: May Morrissey and Esther Foster. Fortunately for us, some of these soldiers were prolific letter writers; the editor of the local newspaper, The Enterprise, reprinted many of those letters. Selections from some of those letters are also included in the book.
While by no means a complete record, Cease Firing does offer the reader a glimpse into the lives of Plainfield's soldiers before and after the war. They were fathers and sons, brothers, cousins, neighbors and schoolmates. Some died soon after their return from war. Of the Civil War soldiers, some were never able to perform any sort of manual labor due
to the lingering effects of war. Quite a few took on the challenge of moving West and were instrumental in the formation
of new towns. Several other veterans survived the war only to die in freak accidents later in life. Many continued to serve in political arenas as city officials or as state legislators. Still other Civil War and World War I soldiers became medical professionals.
While no one can know for sure how each soldier felt about their service to their country, I would imagine that most shared the same sentiment of Civil War veteran George Pickel. When he spoke at the 19th Annual Reunion of the 100th Regiment Illinois Volunteers held at the Norton Opera House in Lockport, Illinois in September of 1903, he said:
| "Every man and woman makes a record. They may not know what kind of record they make, but they leave tracks as they pass along through life. And there are those present, of the Hundredth lllinois and other regiments, that have made records. Now, it has got into the heads of us old fellows that we amounted to something in those three or four years of war. There was something worth reaching out for with the armies; there was something worth saving, even at the cost of life.
And what was it? It was the principle of government, my comrades, that is the foundation stone of this government of ours; the principle that gives to every man and every woman the same chance, the same liberty, that every other man and woman can claim. Now, are we getting it? Will you stand up for that right?
I would rather have those three years of my army life blotted out entirely than to think that I was not standing for that principle of giving to every boy and every girl, no matter from what country or of what color, the same chance to start fair on the line, and win if they are fast enough. That is what you stood for. And if you did not stand for that in those three or four years of war, you did not stand for anything."
(Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about the Plainfield Soldiers Monument. "Cease Firing ... a Call to Duty" is copyrighted and registered with the Library of Congress.)