Located in Northwest Illinois, Mount Carroll became the county seat of Carroll County in 1843. Carroll County was originally a part of Jo Daviess County until 1839. It was named for Charles Carroll, a United States Senator from Maryland and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. On October 24, 1884, a number of Carroll County Civil War veterans organized the Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Society of Carroll County. At a subsequent meeting, D. W. Dame recommended that the society build a monument to honor the 1,284 Civil War veterans of Carroll County. Most of the men fought under Generals Grant, Sherman, McPherson, or Logan. They fought in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, or Tennessee. The society members suggested that the monument be placed on the courthouse square in Mount Carroll. The county board voted to contribute $6,000.00 for the project, and the city of Mount Carroll provided $400.00 to construct the cement steps and background.
Lorado Taft was a member of a team of artists who was commissioned to create the Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument. George H. Mitchell designed the monument, and Josiah Schamel constructed the foundation. John C. Hall designed the annex that was added later when county officials determined that there were many names missing from the original honor roll list. The monument consists of a fifty-foot vertical shaft with a Lorado Taft sculpted soldier holding a flag at the top. Lewis H. Sprecher of Lanark posed for the statue and made several trips to Taft’s Chicago studio to model for it. Two additional statues are attached to the base of the monument, one an infantryman and the other a cavalryman.
Just below Taft’s statue at the top of the monument are eight engraved symbols representing the various army groups that the men of Carroll County fought in during the Civil War. The monument also includes the names of the twelve battles that the men of Carroll County fought in: Atlanta, Chickamauga, Corinth, Fort Donelson, Gettysburg, Hatchie’s Bridge, Nashville, Resaca, Shiloh, Stones River, Vicksburg, and the Wilderness. The following words appear on one face of the monument: “Carroll County: To The Memory Of The Men Who Saved The Union That Their Example May Speak To Coming Generations.” The short phrases “Slavery Abolished” “Peace Restored” and “Courage – Endurance” flank the monument on the other three sides. Two large cannons are positioned on either side of the monument, and a pyramid of cannon balls rests on the ground near the rear of the monument.
The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers And Sailors Monument was unveiled and dedicated in Mount Carroll on October 6, 1891, before a crowd of more than 5,000 people. County Superintendent of Schools John Grossman declared a school holiday on that day, and hundreds of students and teachers attended the dedication ceremony. Carriages full of attendees came from Savannah, Thomson, Lanark, and Shannon. The city was decorated with bunting and flags, and meals were served to the guests by hotels and churchwomen. A band from Savanna led a parade of marchers that included members of various Grand Army of the Republic posts, the Knights of Pythias, the Select Knights of America, and school children. Mount Carroll Mayor N. H. Melendy gave the welcome speech, and J. M. Hunter addressed the assembled soldiers and civilians.
The Carroll County Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument was rededicated exactly a hundred years later on October 6, 1991. Two Civil War reenactment groups participated in the celebration. The 121st Illinois Regiment conducted a daylong Civil War encampment, and Battery G of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery fired the cannons near the monument. Lt. Col. Warren Sweitzer addressed the assembled crowd and thanked the Carroll County Board for constructing the monument a century earlier.