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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2014

Camp Harlan/McKean named to National Register of Historic Places

Jul 29, 2013
Photo by: Contributed Camp Harlan/Camp McKean, used as a training camp by the Fourth Iowa Cavalry and 25th Iowa Infantry during the Civil War, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is marked by a stone monument on the corner of Courtland Street and Hickory Avenue, Mt. Pleasant.

The Camp Harlan/Camp McKean Historic district has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Getting the former Civil War training camp listed on the register was a lengthy process.

Members of the Henry County Historic Preservation Commission and other community members conducted research on the site. With the help of Rebecca Lawin McCarley, an architectural historian from Davenport, they prepared a 65-page nomination that was submitted to the State Review Board on Aug. 12, 2012.

The state board approved the nomination in September and sent it on to the National Park Service in Washington DC, which gave its approval in December 2012.

The site was officially listed on the register on Jan. 1. A certificate, provided by the state and signed by Governor Brandstad, was received in mid-July by Dorothy Huene of Mt. Pleasant, the property owner.

The district, located east of Hickory Avenue across from the Mt. Pleasant Golf and Country Club, was a Civil War mustering point and training camp for the Fourth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry Regiment and the Twenty-Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

According to information provided by Donald Young from the Henry County Historic Preservation Commission, Camp Harlan served the Fourth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry Regiment as the organization and training site from September 1861 to February 1862.

When the first companies arrived, they found the framework for two barracks, no food, no uniforms and no equipment.

Local people provided food and blankets until the 12 barracks were built. Each barrack had a kitchen of its own.

After equipment and uniforms arrived, training started. Horses were purchased locally.

In February 1862, orders were received to report to Camp Benton in St. Louis. The regiment moved by train to Burlington crossed the river by boat and then by train to St. Louis via Galesburg, Springfield and East St. Louis.

Camp Harlan remained unoccupied until Aug. 8, 1862, when the 25th Iowa Volunteer Infantry mustered at the site, now to be called Camp McKean. Named for Brigadier General Thomas McKean, no reason was given for the change.

After completing organization and receiving equipment, the 25th received orders to move to St. Louis. The process started Nov. 1, with the last troops departing on Nov. 3.

That same day, Camp McKean was consumed by flames. No cause was discovered but the camp was destroyed.

On June 8, 1930, the Belle Coddington Tent #34, Daughters of Union Veterans dedicated a marker to the troops that had trained there and moved on to serve their country.

An estimated 3,000 people attended the dedication celebration, with veterans of the two regiments that trained there being special guests.

The Burlington Cavalry Troop (National Guard) Keokuk Legion drill team, Mt. Pleasant’s Bob Tribby Post bugle corps, the Swedesburg drum and bugle corps and Iowa Governor John Hammill all participated in the day’s activities.

The main address was given by Martha McClure of the Belle Coddington Tent #34, who presented a history of Camp Harlan/McKean.

Later additions to the original marker included a plaque with a History of Camp Harlan funded by then-mayor John Freeland. It was dedicated May 29, 2006.

On May 28, 2011 another plaque was added listed the Medal of Honor recipients of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry based on research done by Mick Mitchell of Mt. Pleasant. This was funded by local veterans groups.

Camp Harlan/McKean site is the 47th historic site in Henry County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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