"Boys in Blue: When Will This Cruel War Be Over?" also covers the
Battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg and President Lincoln's decision
to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
The exhibit, which is free
of charge, opened Jan. 15 and runs seven days a week through March
of 2014. Visitors can see prisoners' drawings of the horrible
conditions at Union and Confederate POW camps, a medical kit used by
an Army surgeon, a prisoner's coat, and more.
"Boys in Blue" is part of the Illinois Historic Preservation
Agency's commemoration of the Civil War's 150th anniversary and the
role played by soldiers from the Land of Lincoln. More than 90,000
people visited the first two stages of the exhibit, which will
continue with a fourth stage next year.
Staff at the presidential library combed through thousands of
original letters, photographs, newspapers, books and artifacts to
tell the stories of Illinois soldiers from all backgrounds.
After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, nearly 200,000
former slaves and free men served in the Union Army and Navy. Army
discharge papers for John Williams of the 29th U.S. Colored Troops
are included in this exhibit.
Immigrants living in Illinois had come from Ireland, Poland,
Prussia, Sweden, Germany and Hungary, and many of them served during
the war. The Irish Brigade fought well in many battles, including
Antietam. Jewish soldiers from Illinois also fought and died. Capt.
Noah E. Mendell of the 7th Illinois Infantry was the first soldier
from Sangamon County to fall in the war.
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The notorious Confederate prisons camps Andersonville and Libby
are featured in "Boys in Blue," as are Union prisons Camp Douglas in
Chicago and Camp Butler east of Springfield. An oversized drawing of
Andersonville is particularly striking, but there are more personal
Twenty-one-year-old Thomas Doremus Vredenburgh of Springfield was
taken prisoner after the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863. A local woman
gave him a Confederate jacket to keep warm in prison. That jacket is
now part of the exhibit.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, 112 N. Sixth St. in
Springfield, is home to nearly 13 million items pertaining to
Illinois history. "Boys in Blue" will be open to the public daily
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although the library's reading room and other
departments are closed on weekends.
The library is adjacent to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Museum, which is open seven days a week and requires paid admission.
The museum brings Abraham Lincoln's story to life through immersive
exhibits and displays of original artifacts. In addition to its
permanent exhibits, the museum is presenting "To Kill and to Heal:
Weapons and Medicine of the Civil War."
www.presidentlincoln.org for more information about programs and
exhibits at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
file received from the