- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - One hundred and fifty years after the Mascoutah area sent 464 men to fight in the Civil War, the Mascoutah Heritage Museum has opened an exhibit honoring them and the families, friends and neighbors they left behind.

Mascoutah in the Civil War,” will run through Nov. 16 at the museum at 306 W. Main St.

Tom Snyder, a retired Air Force historian, helped set up the exhibit, along with Kathi Bell.

Snyder also wrote a 203-page book, “Mascoutah, Illinois, in the Civil War,” which is available at the museum for $25. Proceeds go to the museum.

Unlike some broader Civil War exhibits, this one concentrates specifically on what the local men did in the war.

“We wanted to tell the Mascoutah story and some stories you might not have heard,” Snyder said.

Snyder relied heavily on the letters of Lt. Henry Clay Fike to his wife, Cimboline, in his book and in the displays to tell some of the stories.

Fike was a teacher and principal of Mascoutah public schools when he joined the Army. He was quartermaster of Co. K, 117th Illinois Infantry Regiment and wrote 314 letters home, which his wife kept.

They were donated to the University of Kansas and the museum was allowed to use copies of them. The letters’ details of everyday life in the military as well as battles are invaluable to historians.

The exhibit follows the Mascoutah men and the Mascoutah area starting with a snapshot of the town before the April 1861 call-ups and through the war and the peace that followed.

Snyder said the area was 80 percent to 85 percent German in heritage and language.

“The town was strongly Republican and for Lincoln,” he said.

When Lincoln issued a call for volunteers, locals rallied in response and before long were at Camp Yates in Springfield and then guarding Cairo with little equipment.

The local ladies sewed a battle flag for their new company. The exhibit has a replica of that flag.

The town and the farms around it organized five separate companies for the Union.

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