Learning Lincoln On-line

Content:  Topic- Virtual Field Trip Through Coles County for Lincoln and Grant Sites

#12)  The Charleston Riot, March 28, 1864   

Location: Southeast corner, county courthouse, Public Square, intersection of 7th and Jackson streets, Charleston N  39o 29.680   W 088o 10.487


Coles County 1864 Riot on the Square, 8 killed

Murals on the Square, City of Charleston

       On March 28, 1864, a gunfight erupted here between Union soldiers and Civil War opponents known as 'Copperheads.' In eastern Illinois, many Democrats were pro-southern while the Republicans were uniformly pro-Union. Disturbances had occurred earlier in the area, and Copperheads had been killed in Mattoon and Paris. In March, 1863, at Charleston there had been a highly controversial trial of Union deserters. On the day of the riot a large crowd had gathered here for a Democratic rally. Union soldiers were in town on leave. Drinking and fighting led to gunfire. Nine men killed and twelve wounded before troops arrived from Mattoon and quelled the disturbance.  Dennis Hanks, Abe Lincoln's cousin, was sent by men in Charleston to visit the President to gain a pardon for the troops.  He succeeded.

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