QUINCY -- Quincy's most important historic link to Ulysses S. Grant was celebrated Wednesday morning with the unveiling of a monument in Clat Adams Bicentennial Park.
The marker describes how Grant led the Union Army's 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment through Quincy on July 11, 1861, to confront a series of Confederate uprisings in Northeast Missouri. It was Grant's first military action of the Civil War.
"This is a very fitting tribute," said Tim Jacobs, commander of the Tri-State Civil War Roundtable, which worked with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County to develop the monument in cooperation with the Quincy Park District.
Jacobs, one of several speakers at Wednesday's dedication ceremony, noted that Grant led the 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment from Springfield to Quincy before the troops crossed the Mississippi River by ferry.
"We are here today to commemorate General Grant's entry into the Civil War and his crossing into Missouri, into hostile territory," Jacobs said. "He had a lot of trepidation about going across this river."
Grant and his troops didn't stay long in Northeast Missouri because most of the rebels fled once his unit arrived. After a few weeks, the regiment was directed back to Southern Illinois. Then from Cairo, they headed off to Grant's first big military engagement -- the Battle of Belmont in southern Missouri near the state's border with Kentucky on Nov. 7, 1861.
Jacobs said Grant was a young colonel when he passed through Quincy and went on to become commanding general of the Union Army. He later served two terms as U.S. president.
"We stand here today looking west, just as he did 157 years ago, and we thank General Grant for his contributions to the Civil War and to our country," Jacobs said.
Beth Young, one of the organizers of the monument project, noted that all of the money needed to erect the marker was raised privately through a local fund drive led by Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore and four former mayors -- John Spring, Chuck Scholz, C. David Nuessen and Verne Hagstrom.
Harrison Monuments donated the design and installation of the memorial, which was placed just north of the fountain in Clat Adams Bicentennial Park.
"We hope you'll think the marker is impressive and educational," Young told the crowd of about 50 people who assembled in the park for the marker dedication.
The event also featured a flag ceremony by the American Legion Post 37 Color Guard and the playing of Civil War-era music by the Salvation Army Band.
Moore said it's fitting to erect a monument recognizing Grant's historic connection to Quincy in the early stages of the Civil War.
"Probably few would have guessed that he would have rose to the prominence in our nation's history that he did," Moore said. "He played a remarkable role in our nation's history."
After the unveiling, a separate ceremony marked Quincy's participation as an official stop on the U.S. Grant Trail -- a tourism route that goes through multiple cities in Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois with historic ties to Grant.
Greg Wolk, executive director of Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation and an official with the U.S. Grant Trail, presented trail signs to Moore and Holly Cain, director of the Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It is time for us to look back at the accomplishments of U.S. Grant," Wolk said.