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Rock Island Arsenal Museum raising money for USCT Civil War uniform

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Rock Island Arsenal Museum officials said, when reimagining the museum, it was important to tell stories about people of color.

Now, the museum is working to create an exhibit about the 108th US Colored Troops (USCT), a unit of nearly 1,000 former slaves and freemen, and raise enough money to purchase a reproduction of a USCT uniform.

”There are many voices that tell the story of the army, and there are diverse voices that tell the story of the army,” said Patrick Allie, Rock Island Arsenal Museum director.

The 108th USCT served as the longest-tenured Rock Island Prison Barrack guards during the Civil War.

“What we are specifically trying to do, especially with the 108th exhibit, is make it so when visitors come through they see a reflection of themselves in the exhibit, so they are able to make that personal connection,” Allie said.

“Without this unit, there would not have been guards during a particular period of the Civil War. Telling the story is a part of the diverse history of the Rock Island Arsenal and a part of the Quad Cities’ history in general,” said Julia Morin, a Rock Island Arsenal Historical Society board member.

Both Morin and Allie said the legacy of the 108th USCT did not stop when the Civil War ended.

“Many of the members of the 108th USCT would end up making Rock Island, Moline, and the Quad Cities region their home. Many of them would be pillars of the African-American community in this area for decades. The arsenal’s story, and everything that has happened here, is a part of the Quad Cities’ story, and that is something we should be proud of,” Allie said.

The cost of the entire uniform is estimated to be $3,500. To learn how you can donate, click or tap here.

The goal is to have the museum open to the public in 2023.

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