New Aurora Exhibit Re-Creates Local Civil War Camp

New Aurora Exhibit Re-Creates Local Civil War Camp

Aurora’s Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall has opened a new exhibit exploring the experiences of local soldiers during the Civil War.

Camp Hammond 1861: The 36th ILL Regiment’s Local Training Camp will occupy the first floor gallery of the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, across from the GAR at 20 E. Downer Place. The exhibit will run from today (Oct. 7, 2016) through Jan. 9.

An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today in conjunction with the monthly First Fridays event. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by Civil War reenactment musical group, The Sons of Temperance.  The reception is free and open to the public.

Local History Revealed

Camp Hammond 1861 is a collaborative effort between the GAR Memorial Hall and the 36th Illinois Regiment Historical Association, Inc., a reenactment group dedicated to educating the public about the 36th ILL Regiment’s role in the Civil War.  The 36th ILL Regiment recruited soldiers exclusively from the Fox River Valley.

Eventually, 1,200 local young men responded to the call and in August 1861 these new recruits mustered into the army at Camp Hammond in Montgomery, IL.

Camp Hammond 1861 will partially re-create the look of the historic camp, featuring a wooden fence line similar to that which enclosed the original camp, a reproduction “10-man” tent and mannequins in historic dress.  Through photographs, engaging captions, artifact displays and hands-on activities, visitors will learn about the 36th ILL Regiment’s involvement in the Civil War, and particularly about the experiences of soldiers and civilians in the Fox River Valley during the six weeks that Camp Hammond housed the new recruits.

Additional artifacts in the collection include:

  • Uniform pieces, weapons, photographs, musical instruments and soldiers’ personal items which date to the Civil War on loan from the 36th Illinois Regimental Historical Association.
  • A knapsack belonging to Private Frank Perkins of the 36th ILL Regiment and a military drum belonging to Charles Stiles, a drummer boy in the 36th ILL Regiment on loan from the Elgin History Museum.
  • Two swords belonging to Silas Miller, an officer in the 36th ILL Regiment who reenlisted twice and survived a prisoner-of-war camp on loan from the Aurora Historical Society.

Visit Camp Hammond and the GAR

Visitors are encourage to visit the Camp Hammond 1861 exhibit and the GAR Memorial Hall.

The David L. Pierce Art and History Center is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  during First Friday events.

The GAR Memorial Hall and Museum is open to the public Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.  Admission to both sites is free.

SOURCE: City of Aurora news release

About the city of Aurora

city of Aurora logoLocated 35 miles west of Chicago, Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois with a population of 200,456. Aurora is known as the “City of Lights” because it was one of the first in the nation to illuminate its streets with electric lights.  Situated along the Fox River and the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (Interstate 88), the city extends 46 square miles encompassing Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will counties.  Aurora also is home to six public school districts and seven townships. For the latest news, access to an archive of past news releases or to follow the city on Facebook or Twitter, visit the city’s website at