New Civil War Display Features the Rare and the Routine Print
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Friday, 13 July 2012 12:41

Military Museum Offers a Closer Look at Lives of Soldiers in Blue and Gray

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/13/2012)(readMedia)-- A new Civil War display at the Illinois State Military Museum offers visitors a view of rare rifles and revolvers as well as a sampling of other equipment that many Confederate and Union Soldiers carried.

"This addition to our Civil War exhibit gives you the opportunity to get a closer look at the lives of the Americans on both sides of the battle lines," said Bill Lear, curator of the museum. "We're showcasing the almost one-of-a-kind weapons from our collection as well as featuring weapons and equipment that Soldiers routinely used. The result is that you get a better feel for the life of Soldiers."

Located two blocks north of the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and North Grand Avenue, the Illinois State Military Museum tells the story of the Illinois National Guard from 1723 to the 21st Century.

Rare Union weapons on display include:

A Colt revolving rifle: Before the Civil War, the U.S. government purchased 765 of these Colt revolving rifles, but most were shipped to southern locations and were used by the Confederates. The Union later purchased more than 4,000.

The Model 1855 Harpers Ferry (Type I) rifle: This is one of only 374 that were manufactured in 1858 with a rear sight.

The Allen & Wheelock revolver: While this was one of the most advanced handgun designs of the 1860s, only 1,000 pistols were produced due to a patent infringement case between the Allen & Wheelock and Smith & Wesson companies.

Rare Confederate weapons on display include:

The Tallassee carbine: Only 500 were produced and this is the only officially adopted Confederate cavalry weapon.

The Bilharz, Hall & Co. breechloading carbine: Only 100 of these rising breech carbines, popular because it was smaller and lighter weight, were delivered to the Confederacy.

As examples of more common Soldier items, the Union display case holds a Sharps carbine found in many Union cavalry units, and the 1851 Colt Navy revolver, the most widely used pistol in the Civil War. The Confederate display includes a Model 1862 Enfield rifle and a straw hat from a Confederate Soldier. Enfield rifles, produced in England, were the second most widely used weapon among Union and Confederate Soldiers. Found on the battlefield at Gettysburg, the hat is an example of how many Soldiers, especially Confederate, pieced together their own uniforms.


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 . Like the museum on Facebook at www.facebook.Illinois.State.Military.Museum. To learn more about Illinois National Guard history visit

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