Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Pritzker Military Museum & Library The PMML features books, exhibits, live webcasts, and audio podcasts about the military history and affairs.

Continuing with today’s earlier post… Here’s a more military-inclined perspective on the origins and history of Juneteen...

Continuing with today’s earlier post… Here’s a more military-inclined perspective on the origins and history of Juneteenth.

The Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863 did not end slavery in the United States, but it changed the moral and political course of the war into a struggle for freedom, instead of merely suppressing a secession of rebelling states. The proclamation declared “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free”. It also allowed blacks to serve in the federal army and navy, and as a result, almost 200,000 would before the war ended in 1865.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9th, 1865 and General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his forces in North Carolina on April 26th. General Edmund Kirby Smith followed suit and did the same to the Army of Trans-Mississippi on May 26th. The remnant of that force in Galveston, TX laid down its arms on June 2nd. Seventeen days later, Major General Gordon Granger, commander of the Military Department of Texas, came ashore June 19th, 1865 with 2,000 soldiers from XIII Corps and marched to a number of locations throughout Galveston to read aloud General Order No. 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Although Brigadier Stand Watie would not surrender the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles until June 23rd, this effectively marked the end of slavery in the United States. [The Thirteenth Amendment, passed by the U.S. Senate April 8, 1864, the U.S. House of Representatives January 31, 1865, was ratified by the required number of states and went into effect, December 6, 1865.]

Galveston blacks celebrated Juneteenth, marking the end of slavery in Galveston, for the first time in 1866. The holiday was recognized by the Texas legislature in the 1970s as a “holiday of significance” and eventually became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday in 1980. Currently 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday or a ceremonial holiday for observance.


In this week's episode of "This Week in Military History" Dr. Rob Havers explores the United States victory at the Battle of Craney Island that took palce during the War of 1812.

#OnThisDay in 1865, coming at the heels of the American Civil War, and two and half years after President Lincoln’s Eman...

#OnThisDay in 1865, coming at the heels of the American Civil War, and two and half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were told that they were free.

Today became known as #Juneteenth, a day of celebration and freedom that commemorates the Union soldiers’ arrival with the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. 155 years later, communities across the United States continue to celebrate and mark the occasion – this year, probably more than ever.

To provide a little historical context and perspective, we need to look back on Freedom’s Eve in 1863, which was the night when enslaved and free African Americans gathered across the country, eagerly waiting for midnight to strike and the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. Although all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free, the Emancipation Proclamation had little effect on the Confederate states and those held within them.

As Texas was still very much under Confederate control, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on Texan slaves. The small number of Union troops positioned in the area were unable to enforce the new Executive Order. More than 2 years passed but when Confederate General Robert Lee surrendered in April of 1865, the Union forces could move forward in their effort to enforce the order. General Granger led his 2,000 Union troop regiment into Galveston Bay, June 19th and announced that every enslaved black person in the state was now free by executive decree.

The day became known and remembered as Juneteenth by the then-newly freed people of Texas. Celebrated throughout the remainder of the 1800s, the holiday saw a decline in celebration during the early 1900s when history textbooks focused heavily on the Emancipation Proclamation, failing to include the significance of June 19th or the efforts of General Granger and others. There was a resurgence in celebrations during the civil rights movement and in 1980, Juneteenth became an official Texas state holiday through the efforts of an African American state legislator, Al Edwards.

Today, celebration, recognition and commemoration of Juneteenth are at an all-time high. Communities across the country will march today in recognition of what today’s history symbolizes. Corporations and companies have categorized today a national holiday, encouraging their employees to take the day to reflect on the history and significance of Juenteenth. 47 states, including the District of Columbia, recognize today as a state or ceremonial holiday. With conversations surrounding civil and equal rights continuing, it is through a better understanding of history, both military and social, that we can begin to look forward to creating a more inclusive tomorrow.

In celebration of Juneteenth, we would like to take this opportunity to #amblifyblackvoices by listing the numerous resources available in our collection. If you are looking for books, please find the following list: Our Holt Oral History program also highlights stories of those who served, and some highlights include: and

Currently, 46 million people are being held in slavery or involuntary servitude across 146 countries worldwide.


Due to the upcoming activity in the Loop and surrounding areas, the Museum & Library will be closed for pick-up and drop-off Library Express Services until June 23, 2020.

While the Museum & Library will still be closed to the public, Pick-up & Drop-off services will be available to our memb...

While the Museum & Library will still be closed to the public, Pick-up & Drop-off services will be available to our members looking to get new items or return their books.

The safety of our community and staff is our number one priority. In adhering to governmental guidelines, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library will be implementing safety measures to protect those in our space and the community at large. The following protocols will be implemented:

- Masks are mandatory when entering the Monroe Building
- New hours of operation will be in effect to maintain cleanliness and social distancing
- Entrance and exit protocols will be in effect to adhere to social distancing
- In the Museum & Library, the exhibits, library stacks, and 3rd floor will be closed to the public
- Food and beverage will not be allowed in the space
- Library Express Services will be offered to members only
- Virtual services will be maintained

#OnThisDay in 1815 the Battle of Waterloo was fought between Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Army and two armies of the Seve...

#OnThisDay in 1815 the Battle of Waterloo was fought between Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Army and two armies of the Seventh Coalition.

Coming on the heels of the Battle of Legny where Napoleon’s forces beat the Prussians, the Battle of Waterloo commenced just two days later as Napoleon led his 72,000-man army against a British-led army that was 68,000 men strong. The British-led coalition positioned south of Brussels, near the village of Waterloo, included Belgian, Dutch and German troops, and was commanded by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

A rainstorm the night before caused Napoleon to wait until midday to give his command to attack; the first shots of the Battle of Waterloo finally came at 11:35 AM after being fired by a French artillery division. Napoleon’s strategy and delay would end up backfiring because it allowed roughly 30,000 Prussian soldiers to march and reach Waterloo in time to reinforce the British-led army already engaged in battle.

Despite Napoleon’s men being able to mount a strong attack, at around 1 PM, that mass of 30,000 Prussian troops began to slowly emerge from the woods of Chapelle Saint-Lambert led by Prussian General, Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow. Napoleon’s call for reinforcements came to late, nevertheless he was still determined to defeat Wellington’s forces before the Prussians could arrive in force. Soon after forming a defensive line in readying for the Prussians, the French cavalry charged the infantry of Wellington’s right center.

Despite taking some casualties from artillery fire, the British held their ground as the Prussian forces continued to file in on Napoleon’s right. With the Prussian’s continuing to add more and more pressure to Napoleon and his men, he was forced to detach more troops to offset the situation. Fighting continued, and at around 7 PM, Napoleon made a last bid effort for victory, releasing his finest troops on the strengthened British line.

Napoleon’s Imperial Guard found themselves under crushing British fire and eventually broke off. Outnumbered, and with the Prussian’s in full force, the French were forced into panic and chaos, resulting in their eventual and inevitable retreat. It’s estimated that the French suffered more than 33,000 casualties, while British and Prussian casualties totaled more than 22,000. Napoleon abandoned his broken army and returned to Paris on June 21st and abdicated the following day.

In the end, the Battle of Waterloo came to mark the end of Napoleon’s military career. Learn more about this point in history here:

#OnThisDay in 1898 legislation authorizing a Navy Hospital Corps was signed into law by President William McKinley. Thre...

#OnThisDay in 1898 legislation authorizing a Navy Hospital Corps was signed into law by President William McKinley.

Three rates were created: Hospital Apprentice, Hospital Apprentice First Class (a Petty Officer Third Class), and Hospital Steward, which was a Chief Petty Officer. The legislation stated that the Navy Hospital Corps were to treat sailors as well as Marines. They would serve as assistants to physicians and dentists; specialize in radiology, search and rescue, and preventive medicine; and transportation of the sick.

Key responsibilities for Corpsmen include: (1) Serve as an operating room technician for general and specialized surgery; (2) Work in the field with Navy SEALs or Seabees or be assigned to Fleet Marine Force; (3) Deliver emergency medical or dental treatment to Sailors and Marines in the field; (4) Help administer a wide range of preventive care; and (5) Perform clinical tests. Basic Training for corpsmen would be conducted at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. The 18-week course goes through a variety of training modules in emergency medicine, disease and pathology, and nursing.

The Hospital Corps is the most decorated corps in the United States Navy. The accolades, as of 2016, include:
• 22 Medals of Honor
• 179 Navy Crosses since World War I
• 31 Navy Distinguished Service Medals
• 959 Silver Stars
• More than 1,600 Bronze Star Medals with Combat “V”’s since World War II
• 20 Naval ships named after Hospital Corpsmen

Hospital Corps personnel featured prominently in the closing campaigns of the Asia-Pacific Theater in World War II. The story of those campaigns and battles is featured in PMML’s current exhibit, The Allied Race to Victory: The Air, Land and Sea Campaigns That Ended World War II. Today we highlight three Hospital Corps personnel awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on Okinawa.

Hospital Apprentice First Class Robert E. Bush was serving as a Rifle Company Corpsman to Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division on May 2, 1945. Following an assault, he was administering plasma to a wounded Marine officer lying on an exposed ridgeline; a group of Japanese charged toward Bush and the wounded officer. Holding the plasma drip aloft with one hand, Bush fired at the charging Japanese with his pistol and then a nearby carbine, killing six attackers. Wounded multiple times, including being blinded in one eye, HA1c Bush refused to leave his patient, continue to administer aid until a relief party arrived to evacuate them. HA1c Robert E. Bush was eighteen years old at the time of his valorous act, making him the youngest Navy Medal of Honor recipient during World War II. (PFC Jacklyn “Jack” Lucas would become the youngest Marine Medal of Honor recipient for his valorous act that took place on Iwo Jima six days after his seventeen birthday.)

Pharmacist Mate Second Class William D. Halyburton, Jr. was serving with Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division as Corpsman on May 10, 1945. His company’s assault unit suffered a number of casualties in an attack. As heavy Japanese fire swept over the wounded, pinning them, PM2c Halyburton moved forward without hesitation to reach the wounded Marine closest to the Japanese positions. Placing his body between the wounded Marine and the Japanese position, PM2c Halyburton shielded him from fire and rendered aid until a burst of fire killed PM2c Halyburton; he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. PM2c Halyburton was twenty years old.

Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester, a native of Downers Grove, Illinois, was serving as a Corpsman in an assault rifle platoon in First Battalion, Twenty-second Marine Regiment, Sixth Marine Division on June 8, 1945. In the midst of the fighting, HA1c Lester noticed a wounded Marine lying forward of friendly lines. Moving through the maelstrom of fire toward the casualty, Lester was wounded. Undeterred, he reached the wounded Marine and administered aid. Grabbing the casualty, he began to drag him back to friendly lines when HA1c Lester was grievously wounded a second time. Lester, despite the severity of his wounds, reached safety with the wounded Marine. Recognizing the fatal nature of his wounds, Lester refused treatment and spent his waning strength instructing the Marine squad at the position how to treat the various wounds of the casualties at that position. HA1c Lester was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor; he was nineteen years old. He is buried at Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Westmont, Illinois. The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Lester (DE-1022) named in his honor, served in commissioned service 1957-1973.

#OnThisDay in 1775, early in the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bunker Hill began during the Siege of Boston ...

#OnThisDay in 1775, early in the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bunker Hill began during the Siege of Boston and was fought between the Americans and British.

The day before the battle began, American forces had learned that British troop were being sent to Boston in an effort to occupy the hills surrounding the city. Over the night, more than a thousand colonials marched east from Cambridge under the command of Colonel William Prescott with orders to fortify Bunker Hill, a 110-foot climb situated on the Charlestown peninsula that protruded into Boston Harbor. Working in the dark, and almost in the face of the British, the American forces instead began fortifying Breed’s Hill, a smaller hill positioned much closer to Boston.

On the morning of June 17th, under the command of Major General William Howe and Brigadier General Robert Pigot, more than 2,000 British forces landed on the Charlestown Peninsula and bombarded the hill. The seemingly open pasture the British were forced to march through proved to be somewhat of an obstacle course. The tall, unmown hay concealed rocks, holes and other hazards that negatively affected the British. As the British Army advanced in columns Col. Prescott ordered his men to hold their fire until the attackers closed to 50 yards or less, saying, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”

As the British encroached closer and closer to the American line, the rebels opened fire and let loose a barrage of musket fire that forced the closely packed British group to fall into dispersed clusters. With the British line becoming disorganized, they became even easier targets which is what forced them to retreat and withdraw. Disciplined and determined, the British quickly re-formed their lines and prepared for another advance that resulted in a similar outcome. As American ammunition supply expired, the British attempted their third charge and were successful in reaching the redoubts and began to engage Americans in hand-to-hand combat.

Outnumbered, the Americans were forced to retreat. When the Battle of Bunker Hill was all said and done, casualties were high. In just a few hours of fighting, 1,054 British soldiers fell dead or wounded to Patriot gunfire. Just over 100 Americans perished during the battle and an additional 300 others were wounded. With the outcome of the battle being a British victory, three weeks later, George Washington arrived in Massachusetts to take command of the Continental Army.

Learn more:


104 S Michigan Ave, Fl 2nd
Chicago, IL

Adams/Wabash CTA elevated Monroe CTA subway

General information

Since opening in 2003, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library has produced over 300 programs including events with award-winning authors, interviews with Medal of Honor recipients, and Emmy-nominated panel discussions on military issues. Programs are presented in front of a live audience, webcast live on the Internet, and recorded for later broadcast on WYCC-TV/Channel 20 and WTTW-TW/Channel 11, PBS affiliates. Programs are also available for download as audio podcasts. Winner of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library features a collection of books and films on subjects covering the full spectrum of American military history, along with military-themed posters, photographs, medals, uniforms, and other artifacts from private donors and the collection of the Library’s founder, COL (IL) J.N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired).

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 16:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 18:00
Thursday 10:00 - 18:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 16:00
Sunday 12:00 - 16:00


(312) 374-9333


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