Hundreds of Civil War reenactors dressed in realistic uniforms and bearing authentic-looking weaponry will join thousands of history buffs at the Lake County Discovery Museum near Wauconda this weekend for the annual Civil War Days encampment.
With them this year will be at least item that's the real deal -- a 4-by 8-foot American flag made for a soldier by his proud mother after he joined the 96th Illinois Regiment at the height of the war.
Museum staff on Wednesday began preparing the handmade flag, made in 1862 for soldier Edward Murray of Newport Township, for its first public viewing over the weekend. The flag was donated to the museum last year by a descendant of Edward Murray, who was seriously wounded in September 1863 during the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia.
Because it is as big as a conference table and too fragile to put on permanent exhibition, museum officials built a display case to share the piece of Lake County history.
"This flag adds to the distinction of the (Civil War) collection," said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources for the Lake County Forest Preserve District.