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Civil War Era Flag Returning Home

  • Waukegan History Museum 1917 N. Sheridan Road Waukegan, Il 60085 (map)

The Waukegan Historical Society is presenting and transferring a 34 Star American Flag, hand-made during the Civil War, to the Waukesha Historical Society and Museum in a ceremony on Sunday, August 23, 2015. Special viewing of the flag at the Waukegan History Museum will be from 2:00- 3:00pm.

This treasured artifact has been in the care of the Waukegan Historical Society for many years and it has a wonderful story. It was made by wives of soldiers who enlisted to fight for the Union cause in the Civil War. When the flag was donated to the Waukegan Historical Society, it was believed that the soldiers were from Waukegan; however, after detailed research, it was found that the actual origin was Waukesha, Wisconsin.

The Waukegan Historical Society had planned to showcase the flag as part of their commemorative events for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. The flag, sized 10.5 feet by 6.5 feet, was to be the focal point of a new exhibition. Upon finding that the provenance of the flag was Waukesha, WI, the Waukegan Historical Society Board of Directors officially deaccessioned the artifact and contacted the Waukesha Historical Society and Museum to send the item back home.

The flag was originally donated by Francis White to the Waukegan Historical Society in 1985. Francis White was married to Lloyd A. White, whose grandfather was John A. Watson, who served in the Civil War from Waukesha. It is believed that there may have been some confusion originally over the origins of the flag due to the similar names of Waukegan and Waukesha.

The Waukesha soldiers who are associated with the flag all served in Company F. of the 28th Regiment of the Wisconsin Infantry, nicknamed “The Badger Guards.” They are John Watson, Charles I. McGill, James Moyes, Alex Rodgers, Gottlieb Borhmann, and Benjamin Campbell. The soldiers all were from Waukesha County and volunteered around July and August 1862.

August 23, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of date when the soldiers mustered out of the war.

Earlier Event: August 22
Walking Tour: Discover Bowen Park
Later Event: September 11
Exhibit Opens: Combat Photographer