Rock Island Armory Museum Raises Funds for USCT Civil War Uniform

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) — Officials at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum said when reinventing the museum, it was important to tell stories about people of color.

Today, 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 to raise enough money to purchase a reproduction of a USCT uniform.

“There are many voices telling the story of the military, and there are diverse voices telling the story of the military,” said Patrick Allie, director of the Rock Island Arsenal Museum.

The 108th USCT served as the longest serving barracks guard at Rock Island Prison during the Civil War.

“What we’re specifically trying to do, particularly with the 108th exhibition, is to make sure that as visitors walk by they see a reflection of themselves in the exhibition, so they can establish that personal connection,” Allie said.

“Without this unit, there would have been no guardsmen during a particular period of the Civil War. Telling the story is part of the diverse history of the Rock Island Arsenal and the history of the Quad Cities in general,” said Julia Morin, board member of the Rock Island Arsenal Historical Society.

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

“Many of the 108th USCT would eventually settle in Rock Island, Moline and the Quad Cities area. Many of them would be pillars of the African-American community in this area for decades. The history of the arsenal, and everything that happened here, is part of the history of the Quad Cities, and it’s something we should be proud of,” Allie said.

The cost of the entire uniform is estimated at $3,500. To find out how you can donate, click or tap here.

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

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