Our recent observance of Memorial Day — originally known as Decoration Day — highlighted a local connection, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Denis J. F. (John Francis) Murphy, who was a De Pere resident who served as a Color Sergeant with the Wisconsin 14th. Following the war, he and his family moved to the west side of Green Bay.
Murphy was injured initially at the Battle of Shiloh, and shortly thereafter he took 5 mini balls in the 2nd Battle of Corinth, Mississippi — without ever dropping the flag!
Murphy’s Battle Flag is preserved and displayed at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum in Madison.
Here’s a bit of history on the museum, and the reason behind it:
Wisconsin Civil War Veterans and the G.A.R Memorial Hall
The roots of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum are deeply intertwined with the desire of Wisconsin Civil War veterans to preserve the legacy of their accomplishments and the memory of their comrades.
After the U.S. Civil War, the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice lived on in the minds of the survivors of that terrible event. They represented all walks of life and came from every corner of the state.
In 1901 the State of Wisconsin made it a priority to preserve its military history by passing Chapter 125. The law mandated that state officials establish a memorial hall dedicated to commemorating Wisconsin’s role in the Civil War and “any subsequent war.”
The state’s collection of cherished Civil War battle flags would also be displayed in the memorial facility, and an area was set aside for a meeting room for Civil War veterans who belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic, the “G.A.R.” The space was designated the G.A.R. Memorial Hall.
Legislators assigned control of the G.A.R. Memorial Hall to the newly created Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs in 1945, directing the agency to “catalog, restore, conserve, preserve, safeguard, procure additions to the collections, and to display such collections as to make it instructive and attractive to visitors to the State Capitol.”
To Learn More about our Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Please Click Here.