This study focuses on interactions of vortices generated by a family of eddy-promoting upstream rectangular cylinders (of different heights a* and widths b*) with the shear layers of a downstream square cylinder (of height A*) placed near a plane in an in-line tandem arrangement under the incidence of Couette–Poiseuille flow based nonuniform linear/nonlinear velocity profile. The dimensionless operational parameters are cylinders spacing distance S, ratio of heights $r2=a*/A*$ (≤1), aspect ratio $r1=b*/a*$ (≤1), Reynolds number Re (based on the velocity at height *A** for Couette flow), $ReU2$ (based on the velocity at height 10A* for Couette–Poiseuille flow), and nondimensional pressure gradient P at the inlet. The governing equations are solved numerically through a pressure-correction-based iterative algorithm (SIMPLE) with the quadratic upwind interpolation for convective kinematics (QUICK) scheme for convective terms. The major issue of appearing multiple peaks in the spectrum of the fluctuating lift coefficient of the downstream cylinder is addressed and justified exhibiting the flow patterns. While considering the rectangular shape (for the upstream cylinder) and nonlinear velocity (at the inlet), the possibility of generating the unsteadiness in the steady wake flow of the downstream cylinder at a Re (based on height a*) less than the critical Re for the downstream cylinder is documented here. The dependence of flow characteristics of the downstream cylinder on the angle of incident linear velocity at specific S and r_{1} is also demonstrated here. It is observed that the discontinuous jump in the aerodynamic characteristics (due to a sudden change from one distinct flow pattern to the other in the critical spacing distance regime) is directly proportional to the height of the vortex generator. Increasing P under the same characteristic velocity causes the steady flow of cylinder(s) to convert to a periodic flow and reduces the critical spacing distance for the vortex generator.