Illinois Ancestors: Illinois Civil War flags preserved

Anyone with an Illinois ancestor who participated in the Civil War should be aware of the flags carried by that veteran's unit. Infantry, cavalry and artillery regiments each carried distinctive flags (in addition to national flags, standards and guidons), and information/illustrations of these flags can be accessed from http://www.civil-war.com/index.html.

From this website, click on "Search for flags," then choose a category (artillery, cavalry or infantry) and then select a unit's number. It would be appropriate to include this site's information in one's family history of a Civil War veteran.

For example, the 20th Illinois Infantry's page identifies the counties from which the men of that unit volunteered, battles fought and photographs of the unit's flags.

(On a personal note, such information is proudly maintained as part of the military history of our family's Civil War veteran, Albert Porter.)

The website also has information and photographs of captured Confederate flags that are held by the state of Illinois.

The flags themselves were originally in Memorial Hall (Hall of Flags) in the Howlett Building — known then as the Centennial Building — in the Illinois Capitol Complex. However, in the late 1880s, the flags were moved to a flag storage facility at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. Each flag was digitally photographed and is now stored flat (rather than hanging from poles as they had been) in a climate-controlled facility operated by the Illinois National Guard. However, all the flags are in need of repair.

The website at http://www.ilstatehouse.com/battle_flags.htm tells of restoration plans and also provides illustrations of the removal process.

The public can view the flags by visiting the Illinois State Military Museum, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. Admission is free and visitors are not required to pass through security at Camp Lincoln. Call 761-3910 for information.

Civil War books

The National Park Service has a series of Civil War books that is available to read/download at http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/civil_war_series.

Titles include "A Concise History of the Civil War," "The Civil War's Black Soldiers," "The Civil War's Common Soldier," "Life in Civil War America," "The Prison Camp at Andersonville," "The Campaign to Appomattox," "The Campaign for Atlanta," "The Battle of Chancellorsville," "The Battle for Chattanooga," "The Battle of Chickamauga," "The Battle of Cold Harbor," "The Campaign for Fort Donelson," "Fort Pulaski and the Defense of Savannah," "Five Flags Over Fort Sumter," "The Battle of Fredericksburg," "The Battle of Gettysburg," "The First Battle of Manassas," "The Second Battle of Manassas," "The Battle for Pea Ridge," "The Siege of Petersburg," "The Battles for Richmond, 1862," "The Battle of Shiloh," "The Battle of Stones River," "The Campaign for Vicksburg," "The Battle of Wilderness Spotsylvania" and "The Battle of Wilson's Creek."

From the homepage, click on any illustration to view that book. A toolbar at the left enables easy access to the various sections within that book.

The NPS also provides links to every state's Civil War sesquicentennial activities at http://www.nps.gov/cwindepth/civwar150_states.html.

Vital Civil War information and resources pertaining to Illinois are provided at http://www.nps.gov/cwindepth/StateByState/Illinois.html. From this website, one can also seek similar data on any other state.

It should be noted, "Some 10,500 armed conflicts occurred during the Civil War ranging from battles to minor skirmishes." The Battle of Gettysburg resulted in the greatest number of casualties — more than 51,000 on both sides. It has been estimated that 750,000 soldiers — North and South — (20 percent more than the previous estimate) lost their lives during that war.

Illinois Soldiers' Homes

The story of the establishment of Illinois Soldiers' Homes during the Civil War is interesting reading at http://tinyurl.com/monx5xu. It is pointed out that soldiers' homes were not originally established as permanent residences for veterans, but were mainly for individuals who needed food, medical care or a temporary place to rest, and they were "usually run by local ladies' aid societies."

Short Civil War videos

The Civil War Trust has created four short videos (less than four minutes each) "featuring historians discussing basic Civil War topics ... from a description of notable Confederate generals, to an explanation of Civil War artillery." Visit http://www.civilwar.org/in4.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at jbgriffis@aol.com or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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