The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s popular “Illinois Answers the Call: Boys in Blue” Civil War 150th anniversary exhibit will re-open on Tuesday, January 10 with all new images and artifacts, including an original Civil War battle flag and items pertaining to Illinois African American soldiers and Illinois units raised from 1862.
The all-new “Boys in Blue” exhibit builds upon the success of the original “Boys in Blue” exhibit which ran for most of 2011 and was viewed by more than 40,000 people, a record for the Presidential Library. It may be viewed weekdays free of charge, and features an original flag from the Battle of Corinth, one of the key western theater actions of the Civil War in which large numbers of Illinois soldiers fought. It will also feature the faces, letters, sketches and songs of the men who fought in Illinois regiments during the Civil War, including U.S. Colored Troop regiments and those from Illinois regiments formed starting in 1862.
Original materials from the Presidential Library’s vast Civil War collections cover select members from Illinois units and include original albumen prints, lithographs, tintypes, cabinet cards, and cartes-de-visite. Original letters, sheet music, artifacts, diaries and sketches created by the soldiers themselves are also displayed. The exhibits present an individual, human side to the conflict that forever changed the course of United States history.
During the Civil War, African Americans served in significant numbers in the United States armed forces. The 1860 census counted 7,600 African Americans in Illinois, and during the war years more then 1,800 enlisted in the U.S. military. African Americans exclusively comprised the rosters of enlisted men in their units. Beginning in November 1863 the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, the regiment with the largest number of Illinois African Americans, began enrolling men at Quincy, Illinois. Its most noteworthy action was at the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864. This unit was mustered out of service on Nov. 6, 1865 at Brownsville, Texas.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the home to nearly 13 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history, has one of the nation’s largest and richest Civil War collections. The facility is open free of charge on weekdays for anyone interested in researching the state’s history. The adjacent Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, which requires paid admission, brings to life Abraham Lincoln’s story through immersive exhibits and displays of original artifacts. Its upcoming exhibit, “To Kill and to Heal: Weapons and Medicine of the Civil War” opens in April, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. The Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public can also view the exhibit on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. though the offices are closed.
Visit www.presidentlincoln.org for more information about programs and exhibits at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.