Illinois National Guard

 

Illinois State Military Museum Exhibit

 

The Museums' exhibit "Patriots of the Heartland" chronicles the sacrifice and accomplishments of Illinois citizens who have served the state and nation from the days of the Revolutionary War militia to the Global War on Terrorism. In addition, the exhibit tells the story of the service of Citizen Soldiers to Illinois residents during the natural disasters of blizzards, floods and tornadoes.

The unique exhibits you'll see include:

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Exhibit Currently Closed

The prosthetic leg of Santa Anna captured at the battle of Cerro Gordo by the 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry regiment has been removed from the museum to begin a resting cycle lasting roughly two years. The “Leg” has been on display for thirty years and the Illinois State Military Museum is taking measures to stabilize and slow down the rate of deterioration which will extend the life of the object. Resting an artifact in storage is a common practice in museums today. The curator and his staff will decide what the artifact requires in regards to preservation measures. We apologize for any inconvenience this will cause. We hope to have the “Leg” back on display by the end of 2018.

 

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In 1863, during the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took defense research and development to a new level: He test-fired a Spencer repeating rifle in front of the White House placing 7 holes in a pine board. This small piece of history, created during one of our nation's most tested times and by one of most famous leaders, is another one of the museum's unique original artifacts. A similar type of Spencer rifle test fired by President Lincoln is featured in this display.


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Early Militia Exhibit
Illinois National Guard traces its roots back to early territorial militia of the 1700's. Settlers banded together to protect families, farms, and neighbors. Illinois' Militia were first federalized during the War of 1812 the Illinois militia constructed strong wooden forts, Blockhouses, to defend themselves against British attack. During the Black hawk War in 1832, Illinois' most famous Citizen-Soldier was Captain Abraham Lincoln. Years later when recalling his military service he stated, "Not since had any success in life afforded me such satisfaction."


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Civil War Exhibit
The United States entered the Civil War, Illinois volunteers answered President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops, providing over 250,000. This exhibit features the 29th United States Colored Troops, Major General John A. Logan, as well as captured items brought home by Illinois citizen-Soldiers. Pictured on the left, it this authentically uniformed armed and equipped Illinois Soldier greats you as you enter the Civil War exhibit.


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Spanish-American War Exhibit
Spanish-American War took Illinois troops overseas for the first time to fight a war sparked by the sinking of the U.S.S. Main in Havana Harbor, Cuba. At the left is an original M1885 Gatling Gun on display. Also featured is the story of Lincoln biographer and Poet, Carl Sandburg, who served as a private in Company C, 6th Illinois Infantry during the war.


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World War I Exhibit
World War I brought the National Guard into the modern age of warfare and took Citizen-Soldiers in the 33rd Infantry Division from the prairies of Illinois to the trench battlefields of Europe. The display shows two Soldiers of the 131st Infantry, 33rd Infantry Division discussing battle plans in the representation of First World War trench scene in France. The display also shows a German Soldier behind a Maxim 08 Machine Gun opposing the 131st Infantry Soldiers. During the war, 9 soldiers of the 33rd Infantry Division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.


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World War II Exhibit
During World War Two the Illinois Army National Guard fought in both the Pacific and European theaters. The 192nd Tank Battalion, formed in part by Soldiers from Illinois, defended the Philippines in 1941 when they were forced to surrender to the Japanese on the island of Bataan. Less than one-third of these soldiers survived captivity and returned home. The 33rd Infantry Division helped liberate the Philippines in 1945. In the World War II exhibit you can view the typical small arms carried by Illinois Soldiers during the War as well as some of the items captured from the opposing German and Japanese forces.


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Korean War Exhibit
During the Korean War the 32nd Ordinance Battalion served in Japan and Korea The 44th Infantry Division provided training and replacements to units serving in Korea and Europe. Many Illinois Guardsman served as replacements and trainers during the War. The Air National Guard is also featured, since this is the first major conflict following its establishment.


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Vietnam War Exhibit
During the Vietnam War, the 126th Supply and Service Company served in Southeast Asia where Citizen-Soldiers provided logistics support. In the Vietnam War Exhibit you will learn about the contributions made by Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.


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Gulf War Exhibit
In the years following the Vietnam War the National Guard focused on transformation and training to meet its expanded role which included providing humanitarian support throughout the world. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 initiating the Gulf War, the National Guard was part of the coalition force that liberated Kuwait and provided follow-on protection in Operation Southern Watch. The first major conflict in which females of the Illinois National Guard participated.


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Global War on Terror
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Illinois National Guard has become a partner in safeguarding the people of other nations. The National Guard has proven that it is a good neighbor to the world. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Illinois National Guard has taken on a major role in supporting the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, at home and wherever freedom and liberty are threatened. The Illinois Army and Air National Guard continue to serve in the Global War on Terror and this exhibit highlights the uniform, weapon, and equipment of the modern day National Guardsman, as seen on the left.


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Gift Shop
The gift shop features a variety of military theme books, insignia, T-shirts, hats, and other items to include military stuffed bears

   
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