You know he was a President but did you also know he was a captain in the Illinois National Guard?
Abraham Lincoln is widely considered one of America’s best Presidents.
Lincoln’s rise to greatest had a humble and rocky start. It began with his enlistment into the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War in 1832.
President Lincoln Birthday Video
Hi, my name is Adriana Schroeder. I’m the command historian for the Illinois National Guard.
Come along with me as we journey into the life of young Captain Lincoln.
The Illinois Militia was the precursor to today’s Illinois National Guard.
Some things about National Guard life had changed throughout the years, but some things remain the same. Just like every young officer today has to find their own leadership style, a 23-year-old Lincoln had to find his.
In 1832 officers were elected by the enlisted soldiers. Basic training did not exist. So it was up to the young officers to instill discipline and respect in their troops.
At first Lincoln had a difficult time controlling his rambunctious soldiers. After giving his very first order one of his men shouted, “Go to the devil sir.”
One night Lincoln’s troops broke into the officers quarters stole all of the liquor and got rip-roaring drunk. The next day when they began falling out of line Lincoln’s higher headquarters began investigating.
Captain Lincoln took full responsibility. He was arrested and forced to carry a wooden sword.
On another occasion it was the Captain who ignored a general odor discharging his weapon, within 50 yards of camp. Once again, the captain was arrested and given the wooden sword for a day.
Lincoln was fighting a war within a war. A bittersweet tug-of-war between
Lincoln became acquainted with the lifestyle only known to the volunteer soldier.
Although Lincoln’s military service in the Illinois Militia is not a story of combat, or heroism, it gave him a true perspective of the field soldier.
He eventually made the ultimate sacrifice for that he loved.
Today we honor Lincoln’s legacy of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
Every soldier who enters the Illinois National Guard lives by the Army values, just as Lincoln did.
Today the location of the Illinois National Guard Headquarters in Springfield, Camp Lincoln is named in honor of our 16th president.
We honor Lincoln with his likeness on the official unit patch of the Illinois National Guard’s joint force headquarters in 65th Troop Command Brigade.
The next time you see a Lincoln statue I hope you not only think of Lincoln’s greatness, but also the struggles and values of his leadership that lead him to the presidency, eventually uniting our divided nation.