— Looking for Lincoln —
This satirical February 1863 editorial illustration, titled "The Copperhead Party, " depicts three Copperheads advancing on Columbia. Copperheads were Southern sympathizers who saw themselves as "Peace Democrats," opposed to Lincoln and the forced preservation of the Union. Many Copperheads resided in DeWitt County, which is not surprising, considering so many DeWitt County settlers had deep Southern roots.
Not everyone in DeWitt County personally befriended or politically supported Lincoln. DeWitt County was home to numerous Copperheads. In March 1863, a disgruntled group met at Eads Schoolhouse in Barnett Township. It was written, "The meeting was composed of some seventy opposition and ten or twelve true and law abiding citizens. Thus you see the matter was carried on like a jug handle - - all on one side."
The Lincoln antagonists compiled a long list of strongly worded anti-Lincoln, anti-war, anti-Union resolutions. These were printed in ?The Clinton Public' newspaper. In retaliation, a group of Union supporters met at the Center Schoolhouse in Barnett Township and published their own set of pro-Union resolutions.
The enlisted men of the 107th Illinois Volunteer Regiment from DeWitt County learned of the Copperhead activity occurring back home. While encamped at Glasgow, Kentucky, the soldiers released their own resolutions for publication. In part they resolved, "That we will give our united and undivided support to the President in his efforts to crush and suppress this unholy rebellion."
In 1860, Thomas Snell a wealthy and influential Clinton businessman and staunch Lincoln adversary, was a candidate for Illinois Lieutenant Governor on the pro-Southern Breckenridge ticket. After the election, however, and much to his friends' astonishment, Snell's political allegiances changed.
He was outraged by the attack on Fort Sumter, which proved a catalyst for the Civil War - - and Snell's newfound Unionist loyalties. In August of 1862, Snell raised the 107th Illinois Volunteer Regiment. He served as self-appointed Colonel a few months, but was so overzealous and disobedient he was placed under military arrest and faced court martial. Snell was granted a Presidential pardon by non other than his former political foe, Lincoln.