Captain Henry Forbes, commander of Company B, Seventh Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, wrote to his wife from La Grange:
It was a neat little place of about a thousand people. The yards were beautifully improved, filled with evergreens and rare shrubberies. A fine college building crowned a gentle eminence to the east of the town and a Seminary for Ladies looked across it from the North. All is vulgar desolation now. The college and its twin buildings are used now for hospitals, and the churches are all appropriated to the same uses, with many of the private dwellings. The fences are all burned, the gardens trampled, the most elegant evergreens turned into hitching posts for Yankee horses, and all this in a town where there had been no strife of contending forces. It is a natural consequence of war.
The “fine college building” the Captain referred to in his letter was the “Synodical College,” opened in 1857. The college had 119 students at the onset of the Civil War. Its first and only graduating class of 1861 ended the school year one month ahead of schedule, whereupon the entire class volunteered for the Confederate Army. The college building was used as a Union hospital, then later as a prison. In the harsh winter of 1863-64, the college building was torn down so that Union soldiers could use the bricks to build huts and chimneys for their tents. In the 1890’s, the federal government paid $50,000 in recompense for the destroyed building.
Source: Alethea Sayers on this web site