Ethnic Heritage Museum salutes the Mulligan Guards

Online Staff Report

As a part of the Ethnic Heritage Museum’s Civil War Sesquicentennial celebration, the Irish Gallery is honoring Rockford’s Mulligan Guards, a company of Irish volunteers formed in 1862. The Mulligan Guards became Company A of the Illinois 90th Volunteer Infantry, known as the Irish Legion.

The Mulligan Guard exhibit explains the formation of the Mulligan Guards and shows the campaign of the Irish Legion as part of the Army of the Tennessee and of the XV Army Corps, which marched with General William Tecumseh Sherman to the sea. The exhibit also highlights three men who came back and were successful in Rockford after the war: Patrick Flynn recruited and led the company, Andrew Phinney started as its first sergeant and John Fitzgerald was a private.

Included in the exhibit are Civil War memorabilia and information about General John A. Logan, the Civil War general from Illinois and national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic who proclaimed the first national observance of Memorial Day in 1868.

The Ethnic Heritage Museum will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 20, as a prelude to Memorial Day. Light refreshments will be served. Entrance is free, but donations are accepted.

The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War events are being held throughout the state. The Mulligan Guards exhibit was developed in collaboration with Winnebago County’s Veterans Memorial Hall, the Illinois State Military Museum and Terry Dyer.

The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., is unique in its blend of ethnic groups: African-American, Italian, Lithuanian, Irish, Polish and Hispanic. A visit to each of the six galleries will enlighten visitors of the cultural history of each of these groups.

The “Mulligan Guards” exhibit will be on display every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. through October. Group tours can be arranged by contacting the museum at (815) 962-7402 or e-mailing The museum is handicap accessible.

For more information, visit

Posted May 16, 2012

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