Former QU history professor has book published about Quincy during Civil War

Costigan Book Cover

QUINCY — The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County has coordinated the publication of David Costigan’s doctoral dissertation, “A City in Wartime: Quincy, Illinois and the Civil War,” as a 230-page book. 

Photos curated from the HSQAC collection were added to the thesis, as were glossy front and back covers. Private donations from several of Costigan’s former students and supporters funded the project.

The book examines the impact of the Civil War on Quincy, which was the third-largest city in Illinois in 1860. Situationed on the Mississippi River across from slave state Missouri, Quincy was exposed to the uncertainties and potential strife of a border region.

Quincy entered the war with a rich tradition of providing influential political leaders. John Wood was the governor of Illinois, and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas recognized Quincy as his home district during his first two congressional terms. Quincy also provided two U.S. Senators during the war — Orville Hickman Browning and William Richardson.

Quincy served as a muster and training site for both white and Black troops. Some of the latter served for Massachusetts, and the 29th U.S. Colored Regiment training at Quincy and, after moving out, fought the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Va., in July 1864. Quincy served as a port of entry for blacks fleeing the South in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation. The city experienced discord related to the influx, but a measure of altruism appeared among some dedicated to helping Blacks make the transition from slavery.

Women of Quincy banded together in three organizations designed to serve the needs of soldiers and their dependents. The city experienced an early economic downturn but rebounded strongly to achieve growth during the war. Quincy and its hinterland in northeast Missouri strove mightily to restrain friction so as to protect the economic vitality of the region.

Costigan, professor emeritus of history at Quincy University, holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Illinois State University. He is a revered historian, educator and mentor and a notable authority on the Civil War. Costigan has served as the HSQAC’s historian in residence for many years and is a long-time member.

The book is available at Quincy’s History Shop in the History Museum, 332 Maine, or the HSQAC Visitors Center, 425 South 12th. A book signing is planned on the Gov. John Wood Mansion grounds this fall in conjunction with the society’s 125th anniversary celebration. 

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