Among Elginites who served in the Civil War, there were 153 students, teachers, administrators and trustees from Elgin Academy.
·Academy student Leverett Kelley was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic action in combat at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee in November 1863. He live to be 83 years old and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
·Private Edward Baker was killed in action on April 6, 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, which claimed more than 13,000 Union casualties.
·Academy student Louis Tourtelott died of typhoid fever aboard the hospital transport ship City of Memphis. He was one of 6,000 Illinois men who would die from disease or injuries after the Vicksburg, Mississippi Campaign in 1863.
The two bronze cannons, weighing approximately 1,300 pounds each, were cast at the Paul Revere Foundry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1864 and 1865. The cannons are "12 pounder Napoleans," which fired a 12-pound solid shot projectile, or an exploding canister.
The cannons were given by a special grant to Elgin Academy by an Act of Congress and dedicated in May 1909 before a crowd of 600 people. "The position of the two guns, one pointing north and the other south, both with muzzles elevated symbolizes the peace and good will which now exist between the north and south of this country."
Elgin Academy opened in 1856. The building housed the classrooms and living quarters of the teachers and students. The Academy was ahead of its time for allowing female students and those of all religions.
Built on a hilltop of local Dundee brick by Edwin Reeves and Joshua Wilburr, Old Main is designed in the Greek Revival style. Today, Elgin Academy is a private, independent school educating children from pre-school through the 12th grade. While most of the building now houses the Elgin History Museum, the school still uses one room as a classroom space, keeping the building part of the Elgin Academy campus.