A celebration held October 11, 1998 marks the centennial of the Battle of Virden
The commemoration of the Centennial of the "Battle of Virden," in which eight coal miners and four mine guards died on October 12, 1898, drew a greater-than-expected crowd of a thousand or more to throng the town square of little Virden, about 20 miles south of Springfield, Illinois. The contemporary event took place on Sunday, October 11, 1998.
The crowd, including scores of present-day strikers from three nearby coal miners, responded enthusiastically to a dynamic speech by Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America. They walked through the town to several historical locations. There they listened to actors portraying real persons from the successful, though bloody, struggle to prevent a train carrying replacement workers from reaching its destination. The Governor, thereupon, used the militia to prevent further strikebreaking.
The event was produced by a committee of local residents and union people from the area. Prof. Rosemary Feurer of Northern Illinois University led the project. An illustrated booklet recounting the story of Virden was produced especially for the program. It is available from the Illinois Labor History Society, the fiscal sponsor of the event. For more information email ilhs[at]prodigy.net.
The program was supported by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. Co-sponsors were: Mother Jones Foundation; United Mine Workers District 12; SEIU Local 73; Laborers Union, Southwestern District Council; Springfield Trades and Labor Assembly; Madison County Federation of Labor.