Historical society to present lecture on Civil War Confederates in Coles County

Lynnsey Veach, City Editor

The Coles County Historical Society will be hosting a presentation entitled “Confederate Special Operators in Our Midst: The Northwest Conspiracy and its Mattoon Connection.” On Sunday at 2p.m. the presentation will be held at the historic train depot in downtown Mattoon, the location of the current Amtrak Station.

Aaron Walker, the museum director for the Coles County Historical Society, said the Coles County Historic Society’s mission is “to promote public interest in the history of the county by providing events and activities, by maintaining public facilities and by collecting, preserving and interpreting materials.” Sunday’s presentation is the group’s first public event of 2016 and it aims to fulfill that mission.

“This presentation will contextually address the Confederacy’s attempt to influence the 1864 Presidential Election through the first formal campaign in US military history of behind-the-lines subversion and sabotage,” Walker said.

Walker also said, because of the historic significance of the Confederate’s behavior, it may have a strong impact on those who attend the presentation.

“It would be important for members of the community, as well as Eastern students, to attend the meeting to better understand the role our community had during the Civil Wars,” Walker said.

The keynote speaker, Steve Thompson, will be giving a lecture during this historical Civil War presentation in the Lone Elm room of the depot.

Walker said Thompson is a historic preservation consultant who has served in a variety of cultural resource management and preservation-related capacities with the National Park Service, the University of Illinois, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“As the principal of the Mattoon-based Intrepid Consulting Services, Inc., Steve works with public and private clients to achieve historic preservation regulatory compliance for projects affecting historic resources,” Walker said.

Besides his involvement with the Historical Society, Walker said Thompson has recently been involved in the Mattoon Civil War Ellipse Project. This project is a site that overlooks the location of Mattoon’s Civil War-era Camp Grant, which functioned as a Union muster camp for Illinois infantry regiments from 1861 through 1865.

In addition to the presentation on Sunday, Walker said the CCHS will also be choosing new officers for 2016.

Walker said there are many opportunities for Eastern students to become involved with CCHS. Students can become members, donate, and volunteer at events or at their museum located in Mattoon at the train depot.

For those who wish to learn more about the CCHS or to find membership information, they can find this located on the society’s website.


Lynnsey Veach can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]