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Lincoln College recipient of Illinois State Historical Society award

Staff report
Lincoln College

Lincoln, IL –  “Our Cause Is Just” is the Civil War story of the John and Esther Hawes family from Eminence Township in Logan County near Atlanta, Illinois. The documentary is based upon letters written by brothers Henry and George Hawes and half-brother James Ewing—all three soldiers in battle—to parents John and Esther and family back home. The family in turn also wrote many letters to their sons, whose units were fighting primarily in Tennessee and Mississippi. The letters date from 1861 until after the war was completed in 1865.

“What makes these letters so fascinating is that they write candidly and vividly about the political issues of the day: Union war policy, southern secessionists, Abraham Lincoln and emancipation, as well as Lincoln’s re-election and assassination,” said Lincoln College Associate Professor Ron Keller, screenwriter for the documentary.

Museum staff, with the help of volunteers, chiefly Lynn Spellman and Steve Sauer, transcribed the letters over the past several years. Then, in the fall of 2020 work began towards the creation of a video to detail the story.

The documentary draws upon many of the letters, available photographic images, and a few recreations to tell the personal story, and how a local family persevered through the trials and struggles of the Civil War