March 28, 1864
---Riots in Illinois: In Charleston, Illinois, soldiers of the 54th Illinois Infantry, home on leave, begin to make trouble against Copperheads (Southern sympathizers) in the neighborhood. This day, on Court Day, a large rally for the Democratic Party is held in the town center. A large group of soldiers appears, and John Rice Eden, the local congressman, tries to calm the crowd. But in a scuffle, a civilian shots a soldier, who in turn shoots his assailant. Shooting breaks out in a wild melee, and the Democrats fire on the soldiers, most of whom have stacked their arms. The sheriff, John O’Hair, dashes out, as if to arrest the Copperheads shooting at the troops, but joins the civilians and begins shooting them, too. Col. Greenville Mitchell, commander of the regiment, runs out into the street with his surgeon (a notorious abolitionist) and both are shot down. By the time the soldiers are able to grab their rifles and deploy, the sheriff suddenly orders the Copperhead civilians to cease fire. Nine are dead---six soldiers, two Copperheads, and a shopkeeper who was caught in crossfire. Twelve more are wounded, including the regimental colonel and surgeon. Warrants are issued, and nearly 50 civilians are arrested, and eventually 16 of them go to prison, but are not charged. The sheriff escapes to Canada.