A BOY IN BLUE
By Goldie Hubbard, Dist. 284.
Mr. Henry Eby was born in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, Sept. 8, 1841,
the youngest son of John and Mary Eby.
In 1850 this family moved to a home near Mendota. In those days, everything was new and there was little opportunity for Mr. Eby to attend school, but he made the best of his opportunities and learned quite a little by himself.
When the Civil War broke out, Mr. Eby was nineteen years of age. Then came President Lincoln's call for volunteers. Every able-bodied man was ready to fight for our country.
Soon the fife and drum were heard. Volunteers were being called. Mr. Eby could not resist the desire to help fight, and enlisted in the Twelfth Illinois Infantry. At the end of three months he re-enlisted and joined Co. C, Seventh Illinois Cavalry. During this period he was orderly for General Palmer and it was his duty to carry messages to the battlefront. He did many acts of bravery during this time.
When the battle of Chickamauga was fought, the Union Army made a blockade of logs, trees, stones, and anything that would serve their purpose. Soon bullets began whizzing by, like an army of mad hornets, but the fight did not start in earnest until the next day. That night Lieutenant Shaw told the boys this would be one of the hardest fought battles that any of them would ever live to see.
I imagine many of those soldiers would liked to have been at home with the folks they loved so well. Yet many of these boys never came back. They had given their lives that "Old Glory" might be kept waving.
This battlefield of Chickamauga is now owned by the United States Government. Monuments have been placed in the exact places where the Union and Confederate troops and batteries were stationed.
Mr. Eby was made prisoner of war at the close of this battle. He was sent to Belle Island prison, but was later removed to the Libby and Smith prison. The prisoners were fed scarcely enough to live on, and many of them died of starvation. It was so cold in the prison the prisoners would be chilled through when morning came.
Mr. Eby made his escape from prison, only to be captured and returned.
A month after Mr. Eby's return to prison, they were paroled back to St. Louis where Mr. Eby joined his troops as soon as he had partly regained his health although he never fully recovered from the hardships he had endured while in prison.
On March 14, 1867, Mr. Eby married Mary L. Swisher of Mendota. They were blessed with two daughters but both were taken by death. For many years Mr. and Mrs. Eby lived on a farm outside of Mendota. After his wife's death in 1902, Mr. Eby moved into the city.
He invented many useful articles, but his patents were stolen from him. Mr. Eby also designed the Soldier Monument at Restland cemetery in Mendota. This monument is dedicated in memory of all soldiers.
Mr. Eby was taken by death Sunday morning, February 7, 1932, at the age of 90 years, 4 months and 29 days.
Mr. Eby will never be forgotten by the people, as he was always ready to give a handshake, a smile, or a word of cheer to everyone. May his name be honored and remembered in all the years to come.