Military Museum Flag Project Continues with 8th Illinois Cavalry Guidon PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Illinois Guard PAO   
Friday, 29 June 2012 10:23

Private-Public Partnership Conserves Flag of First Union Unit to Fire at Battle of Gettysburg

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/28/2012)(readMedia)-- The three-foot long, red, white and blue flag carried by Soldiers of the 8th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War hangs proudly at the DuPage County Historical Museum in Wheaton, thanks to a private-public partnership program with the Illinois State Military Museum.

"The 8th Illinois Cavalry guidon ranks as the 13th flag from the Military Museum collection to be conserved and loaned for display," said Bill Lear of Springfield, curator of the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. "This joint effort conserves flags without any cost to the state while giving more opportunities for the public to see historic flags from the collection."

A guidon is a small flag that has colors and shapes to identify a unit. The Military Museum has nearly 1,100 guidons and regimental and national flags that were carried by militia and Illinois National Guard units from as early as the 1846 Mexican War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Private donors raise the money to pay for the conservation of the flags, which remain the property of Illinois. Upon completion of the conservation process, the Military Museum loans the flag to donors for display. However, the flag must be displayed in a building that meets strict standards for physical security and for environmental controls of temperature and lighting.

The 8th Illinois Cavalry conservation project took 12 months and cost $20,000, which the DuPage County Historical Museum Foundation raised. The foundation also assisted in raising money to conserve the 36th Illinois Volunteer Infantry national colors. That flag has been on display at the DuPage County Historical Museum since 2010.

Recruited in northern Illinois in 1861, the 8th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry played a key role in Civil War history at the battle of Gettysburg. Lt. Marcellus E. Jones of Company E is credited as the Union Soldier who fired the first shot July 1, 1863. Jones of Danby, which is now Glen Ellyn, borrowed a carbine from Sgt. Levi Shafer of Naperville and fired at a Confederate Soldier. Besides its service at Gettysburg, the unit also aided in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, and served as Lincoln's honor guard while he lay under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

For more information, contact the Illinois State Military Museum, 1301 North MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, Ill., or call (217) 761-3384.

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The Illinois State Military Museum displays the history of the Illinois National Guard from 1723 to the 21st Century. Located two blocks north of the intersection of MacArthur Blvd. and North Grand Ave. in Springfield, Ill., the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For further information about the museum call (217) 761-3910 or visit http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/museum/ . Like the museum on Facebook at www.facebook.Illinois.State.Military.Museum. To learn more about Illinois National Guard history visit http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/History/.

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