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May 22, 2014

Ceremonies will honor Revolutionary and Civil War heroes

Memorial ceremonies honoring Revolutionary War and Civil War veterans will be held this weekend in Shiloh and at McKendree University in Lebanon.

Revolutionary War hero

The Belleville Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, will place a marker next to the grave of the son of Revolutionary War Col. John Thomas Jr. at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shiloh Cemetery.

It will feature five groups in uniform: Sons of the American Revolution, Society of 1812, Union and Confederate Sons and a group of Civil War re-enactors, who will do a black powder gun salute.

Descendants of Col. Thomas will attend, along with Stephen Korte, of Belleville, who did research on Thomas for his Eagle Scout project.

Here is a biography of Col. John Thomas Jr., provided by the Belleville Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution:

Col. John Thomas Jr. was born May 26, 1751. He grew up in South Carolina, living first at Fishing Creek on the Catawba River, then, beginning in 1762, on Fair Forest Creek in the Upper or Broad River District. The area had to be defended constantly from marauding Cherokee Indians and other allied tribes. Just when it seemed a decade of self-defense had brought some peace and stability to the upper Piedmont, the Revolutionary War broke out in the northeast and swept southward.

John Thomas grew up in a family of patriotic people: his father, John Thomas Sr.; mother, Jane Black Thomas and seven siblings. His three brothers and four sisters were Robert, who was killed in Roebuck's defeat at the Battle of Mudlick's Creek in 1781; Abram, wounded at Ninety-Six, was taken prisoner and died in the enemy's hands; William, who assisted his family in defending their home; Martha, who married Josiah Culbertson; Ann, the wife of Joseph McJunkin, who greatly contributed to the success of the battles at Hanging Rock, Musgrove's Mill, Blackstock's Fort and the Cowpens; Jane, who married Capt. Joseph McCool; and Letitia, wife of Maj, James Lusk. All were active in the Revolutionary War.

Col. John Thomas Jr. served with his father, Col. John Thomas Sr., in the Spartan Regiment of South Carolina. The original Spartan Regiment was organized Aug. 21, 1775 at Wofford's Iron Works with Col. Thomas Sr. as its first commander. The regiment held its first muster, or review, at Col. Thomas' home on the Fair Forest Creek. It was reorganized in the summer of 1780. It was a volunteer organization whose officers and men served without pay and without provisions. ...

When his father was taken prisoner in 1780 for 14 months, Col. John Thomas Jr. succeeded him in the command of the Spartan Regiment, which he led at the Battle of the Cowpens and elsewhere. He is known as the "Hero of Cedar Springs." The first Battle of Cedar Springs happened just a few miles away from where the town of Glendale, South Carolina, is today. The battle was a Patriot victory that took place on July 13, 1780, in modern day Spartanburg County. A Tory force from the British outpost at Ninety-Six tried to surprise a Patriot force under Col. John Thomas Jr. camped at Cedar Springs.

At the time, Thomas' father was being held as a British prisoner at Ninety-Six and his mother was visiting her husband. His mother overheard some of the Tory wives discussing the surprise attack that was supposed to be made against Cedar Springs. She left early the next day and rode about 60 miles to Cedar Springs to warn her son and his soldiers. With this warning, the Patriots set up an ambush. The Tories rode into what they thought was a sleeping camp. Instead, many were killed or wounded by the waiting Patriots.

Col. John Thomas Jr. was with Gen. Sumter in 1781 and fought in several important engagements. He served in the Light Dragoons, with the Civil Service and on the jury in the Ninety-Six District, South Carolina.

After the Revolutionary War Col. John Thomas Jr. came to Shiloh, Illinois, with his family. He was very active is establishing the Shiloh Methodist Church. He was made treasurer of the Territory. Later he became the first treasurer or the State of Illinois and died on July 29, 1819 while in office. He is buried in the Shiloh Methodist Church yard.

McKendree Civil War regiment

A brief ceremony to honor Civil War soldiers of the 117th Illinois Regiment, also known as the McKendree Regiment, will be held at noon Friday near the 117th regiment memorial on the front lawn of the McKendree University campus in Lebanon.

The 7th annual ceremony will include the posting of colors, remarks by Sgt. Maj. Frank Austin of the 117th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in Civil War uniform and patriotic music.

The 117th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers of the Union Army was comprised of about 900 mostly McKendree College faculty and staff members, graduates and students.

When the Civil War began in 1861, 150 of the 200 students enrolled at McKendree volunteered for federal service to defend the Union. McKendree contributed at least six generals, 30 other officers and hundreds of enlisted men to the Union army ranks. Many of the trees on the front lawn of the historic Lebanon campus, founded in 1828, were planted in memory of those who died in the Civil War.

Prior to Friday's ceremony, flags will be placed on graves of Civil War Soldiers Jesse Brant, William Ogden, Lt. Samuel H. Deneen (former professor of languages at McKendree) and Lt. William Wallis at College Hill Cemetery, north of campus.

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