The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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February 16, 1864

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By February 16, 1864 Nashville, Tennessee was a Union Army supply center. Goods from the North were being transported to it for further distribution to federal forces throughout the region. By the terms of "An act to grant a quantity of land to the State of Illinois for the purpose of aiding in opening a canal to connect the waters of the Illinois River with those of Lake Michigan," "Said Canal when completed shall be and forever remain a public highway for the use of the Government of the United States, free from any toll, or other charge, whatever, for any property of the United States or person in their service passing through the Same" (see document 1).

For 1864 the canal was open to navigation from March 10 through November 29, a span of 265 days. During this time a total of 2,696,196 bushels of oats passed through the I and M. Of that number 733,504 bushels originated at Chicago. And for the period considered 688,511 bushels were transported free of tolls because they were the property of the U.S. government. Oats were the only item shipped by federal authority. Oats were used to feed Union Army horses. See also document 45.

Points to Consider

What was Norton & Co. requesting in this letter?
Considering document 1, was this request granted?
Nashville, Tennessee is located on the Cumberland River. Trace a water route for these oats from Chicago to Nashville. Where had these oats likely been grown?
Why were oats being shipped from Chicago to Nashville early in 1864?

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