How They Served: Recovering the Experiences of Five Pennsylvanians in the American Civil War

Pennsylvania supplied approximately 362,000 soldiers to the Union effort in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. This was more than any other Northern state except New York. The Keystone State suffered the loss of 33,183 sons to death while in war service, and virtually every aspect of Pennsylvania society was affected by the pervasive nature of the great conflict and its staggering cost in terms of...
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Editor’s Letter

I realize that as the new editor of Pennsylvania Heritage I have some very big shoes to fill. Michael J. O’Malley III, editor of the magazine for the past three decades of its 40-year existence, warns me with characteristic humor that his size 14s are indeed large. So too, I’d add, is his legacy. Under Michael’s leadership Pennsylvania Heritage has grown tremendously. In the...
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John Summerfield Staples, Lincoln’s Representative Recruit

As the American Civil War dragged into its fourth year, U.S. government leaders grew increasingly troubled about the shrinking of the Union army. Several reasons for the reduction in the army’s ranks included the number of combat casualties, incapacitation of troops from wounds and illnesses, desertion and the end of the original three-year enlistment period for 1861 in which recruits played a...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Recommends

Gettysburg Religion Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North In the borderland between slavery and freedom, Gettysburg remains among the most legendary landmarks of the American Civil War, asserts Steve Longenecker, author of Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (Fordham University Press, 2014,...
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2013 PHMC By the Numbers Infographic

Each year the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, co-publisher of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine with the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation, produces an annual report detailing its activities. In order to highlight some of our most interesting achievements and to quantify our successes we’ve put together a snapshot of these activities in the form of this infographic. Infographics are...
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The Gender of Assimilation: The Carlisle Indian Industrial School Experiment

In his celebrated 1702 book Magnalia Christi American (The Glorious Works of Christ in America), Puritan minister Cotton Mather described local Native Americans. “The men are most abominably slothful; making their poor Squaws, or Wives,to plant and dress, and barn, and beat their Corn, and build their Wigwams for them; which perhaps may be the reason for their extraordinary Ease in Childbirth,”...
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Remembering the Fishing Creek Confederacy

During the summer of 1864 rumors began to circulate that Columbia County had become a place of refuge for hundreds of deserters from the Union army. The federal government promised a reward of $30 for every deserter captured. So on the night of July 31, 1864, eight men left neighboring Luzerne County hoping to track down some deserters around Benton. They cornered a house in Raven Creek Valley,...
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Letter to Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin

Casualties in the American Civil War were enormous on both sides of the four-year conflict. Reuben Kemmerer (also spelled Kemerer), of Company I, 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, suffered wounds to his right hand during the Second Battle of Deep Bottom in August 1864. He was one of approximately 2,900 Union soldiers wounded in the engagement which took place in Henrico County, Virginia,...
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Model of USS Michigan at Erie Maritime Museum

While she was being constructed, beginning in July 1842, the vessel known at her December 5, 1843 launch as USS Michigan (in honor of the Union’s newest state) and later as USS Wolverine (renamed in 1905 for Michgan’s state animal so the state name could be used for a new dreadnought battleship) was simply called “Lake Steamer” or “Iron Steamer.” Two decades...
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Camp Elder Civil War Paroled POW Camp

Located in Westtown Township, Chester County, Camp Elder was a holding facility for the Union’s paroled Prisoners of War (POWs) from mid-July to August 1863. Because of logistical problems associated with holding enemy prisoners during the American Civil War both Union and Confederate armies issued hundreds of thousands of paroles to soldiers captured in battle. Terms of this practice were...
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