Civil War in Pennsylvania is a special edition of 6 features commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in Pennsylvania, published as the Summer 2013 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage in collaboration with Pennsylvania Legacies and Western Pennsylvania History magazines.

Pennsylvania’s recently conserved Civil War Muster Rolls, housed at the Pennsylvania State Archives, document the commonwealth’s contributions to the Union. Nearly 345,000 Pennsylvanians served in the U.S. Army during the war, or approximately 60 percent of the adult male population.1 A century and a half ago clerks carefully transcribed the names, ages, regiments, and brief descriptions of the men who left their homes, farms, workshops, and desks to defend the nation in the time of uncertainty and peril.

Charles D. Fuller – or Charley, as his friends called him – enlisted in Harrisburg in September 1861, when war enthusiasm ran so high that recruiters were turning men away. Fuller was mustered into Company D of the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry. Described as a slight boy with a sallow complexion, black eyes, and light hair, he was detailed as a surgeon’s nurse.2 Fuller listed his occupation as a clerk. However, in the last column of the roll, titled “Remarks,” a clerk noted Fuller was discharged after he was “detected as being a Femal(e).”

How was Fuller discovered? Though many veterans later examined the rolls to add details or correct errors about their service and that of their comrades, Fuller’s service card offers no clue. The only other reference is found in the “Reminiscences” of Matthew Taylor, who served in Fuller’s 46th PVI.3 Taylor recalled that “they boys of Company C hollowed (hollered) out to a comerad did yo see that woman in Company D?… She played boy to a finish but was detected and sent home.” Adding to the mystery, Fuller’s service record at the National Archives lists him/her both as a deserter at Camp Lewis, Maryland on October 31, 1861, and discharged at Alexandria, Virginia, on July 16, 1865. The latter date seems highly unlikely; it does not correspond to the information known about Fuller, leading to more questions than answers.

Scholars don’t know the circumstances prompting Fuller’s enlistment, but she was not the only woman to attempt such deception, nor was she the only woman employing extreme measures to contribute to the war effort.4 Pennsylvania women relentlessly waged war on the home front in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. They knitted socks and organized volunteers, cared for the wounded and the ill, worked in factories, celebrated veterans’ returns, helped bury the dead, and memorialized the fallen. As fathers, husbands, and sons left for battle, women more than ever worked to support their families. For many, particularly those who lost loved ones or who welcomed home men permanently disabled, their lives would never be the same. This essay explores both the change wrought by war and the continuity of life on Pennsylvanian’s Civil War home front.

Philadelphia’s Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon and the Volunteer Refreshment Room of the Pittsburgh Subsistence Committee were both credits to civilian ingenuity in response to the exigencies of war. Similar to the modern USO, the refreshment saloons were intended to “be the bridge between the American public” and the Union army. In the early months of the war, men throughout Pennsylvania organized into regiments and congregated in towns and cities on their way to Washington, D.C. In those early days, family members often accompanied soldiers to train stations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and at smaller depots is throughout the state, attracting well-wishers to see them off. Troops from the Keystone State, New England, New Jersey, and New York convened at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard where they waited for trains – and where they were often treated to refreshments by families in the neighborhood. Pittsburgh residents found themselves suddenly playing host to large numbers of soldiers who had traveled great distances and who arrived with little in the way of provisions to sustain them.

Saloons grew from local women’s volunteer efforts to feed passing soldiers, efforts that eventually attracted the attention of businessmen who rented and fitted rooms to feed the troops and formed committees to raise funds to continue the work. Behind the scenes, women planned and cooked meals and stayed awake late into the night awaiting the arrival of soldiers on their way to and from the battlefield.5 When women carried food from their kitchens to troops rendezvousing nearby, they unwittingly began the refreshment saloon movement, the same sentiments that set in motion the initiative behind the creation of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC), a private relief agency established by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to aid sick and wounded soldiers. The USSC was well known for its sanitary fairs to raise money for its work (see “All’s Fair“).

The fairs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, both held in the summer of 1864, focused attention on local soldiers’ aid societies, for which women raised money, sewed clothing and bedding, and knitted socks. Knitting brought women together and helped sustain volunteer work, even though the war taxed their resolve and squeezed their resources. Women combined knitting with childcare, and labored while talking with neighbors or fellow aid society members, exchanging news from the battlefield, and sharing gossip from the neighborhood. The USSC supplied local societies with yarn or cloth to keep them at work. It attempted to keep donations anonymous but makers took pride in their needlework and often attached personal notes to the garments.

Knitting and sewing formed the basis of women’s voluntary societies; many women also relied upon needlework to support themselves. Enlistment bounties offered to the wives of Pennsylvania’s soldiers only went so far to bolster family finances, and wives, mothers, and sisters often waited in vain far money to arrive from the front. Women whose families relied on their income might contribute to the support of the soldiers, but primarily they needed money to feed their children and to keep their homes. Their financial needs, combined with the enormous material needs of the military, required women to negotiate informal and formal contracts to supply a wide variety of goods and services. Women performed a good deal of work for the U.S. Army, including knitting socks and sewing uniforms, washing and repairing uniforms and hospital clothing, and nursing the sick and wounded.

During the war a variety of people nursed, including convalescent soldiers in the North and slaves in the South. Nursing included work such as cooking, washing hospital floors, and caring for soldiers. Nursing as a profession had not yet been established and army nurses were more likely to be male rather than female.

Victorian era ideas about women’s behavior and strong gender prejudices made it difficult for most women to find good paying work and discouraged middle-class women from pursuing it entirely. Nevertheless, the army relied on working-class women and they in turn, depended on money they could earn by providing goods and services to volunteers and others who camped or convalesced in the Keystone State as well as those who passed through.

Like the brief glimpse of Charley Fuller’s enlistment, an invoice submitted by Ellen Lovett of Philadelphia presents us with a host of questions about Pennsylvania women’s Civil War. Ellen Lovett of Philadelphia submitted an invoice to the commonwealth in March 1862 for storing the “arms and accoutrements’ of Company K, 24th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, for six months, after the company mustered out. Placed in her care by Captain Andrew McManus [sic] in August 1861, Lovett safeguarded the arms until they were returned to authorities in February 1862. Her invoice charged for the service that Lovett provided especially for this particular regiment or one that she routinely offered.6 What is known of Company K substantiates Lovett’s claim. The unit’s mostly Irish recruits were mustered in at Philadelphia in early May 1861, saw service in the Shenandoah Valley and, when their three months of service ended, they mustered out.7

Many soldiers hired women to sew, knit, cook, and wash clothes. Caroline Abel laundered clothing and bed linens for the general hospital at Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin between December 1861 and March 1862. Unmarried and apparently with no parents to support her, washing clothes might have been 15-year-old Abel’s main source of support. The work was difficult and tedious, but Abel and others like her had few options. Once a week, Abel arrived at the hospital with heavy baskets of clean bedding and clothes and returned home with them overflowing with soiled sheets and blankets. Although machines had begun to revolutionize the work of plowing fields and manufacturing garments, women who worked at Camp Curtin used crude wash tubs that were awkward to carry. Several of Abel’s invoices are also signed – by both women with an x – by Rebecca Masters, who might have been a friend or a neighbor who shared the work. For their hard work, Abel and Masters split the pay, 50 cents per dozen items totaling more than $100.8 Even shared, the money Abel earned monthly compared favorably with the wages earned by a common soldier, which averaged between $14 and S16 a month.

Because she was unable to sign her own name, Abel relied on the ward master and assistant surgeon to prepare her invoices and compute her pay and they, in turn, relied on her to return the items quickly and in good shape. Several other women also submitted similar bills indicating there were more than enough tasks to be performed at the hospital to employ a number of local women. Only two were able to sign their names, highlighting the class differences between the illiterate and the white middle-class women (such as Dorothea Dix) who were making inroads into the hospital hierarchy, or the women of Philadelphia’s Ladies Aid Society who collected money and donated hospital clothing through voluntary organizations such as the USSC – women who wrote and signed their own letters, corresponded with army officers about their relief work, and generally expected no pay in return for their work. At army camps and field hospitals, women of color, many of them self-emancipated slaves, often did the washing.

Class and race made a difference in the way women in Pennsylvania experienced the war, but so too did region. Camp Curtain’s washerwomen made use of the opportunity accorded by the proximity of a general hospital to find work. Closeness to army camps had distinct disadvantages, though, as civilians learned all too well when the fighting came near in the fall of 1862 and again when Rebel soldiers crossed the border in the summers of 1863 and 1864. Women who lived near or worked at camps worried about stragglers and deserters and the threat of disease. Eight men died at the camp hospital in November 1861, and after Secretary of War Simon Cameron visited the facility the following month, he recommended it be abandoned because of poor conditions.9 Women washed clothing and bedding at the camp’s two measles hospitals. The washerwomen did not receive additional compensation for the added risk of washing the clothes of soldiers infected with highly communicable diseases.10

Nothing matched the risks assumed by civilians who worked at U.S. Army arsenals during the war, including the Allegheny Arsenal in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal. Explosions in December 1861 and February 1862 slowed Frankford’s efforts to increase production to meet military demand and underscored the dangers confronting the Union’s new civilian work force. Despite early setbacks, the arsenal’s production of small arms ammunition was brought up to speed.11 At Allegheny Arsenal, a series of explosions on September 17, 1862, killed 78 women employed as cartridge formers. (see “Allegheny Arsenal Explosion“).

In comparison to cartridge-making, sewing paid little. Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Arsenal employed hundreds of women to make army uniforms. They took pride in the skill and the care with which they produced clothing that would withstand the rigors of warfare. By September 1861, some 3,000 women were sewing uniforms at the arsenal.

After Assistant Quartermaster Colonel George H. Crosman lowered the per-piece rate and began sending more of the work to private clothing manufacturers that paid even less, Schuylkill’s seamstresses balked. Crosman negotiated a contract with one manufacturer, Adolph and Keen, to produce 650 Zouave fez caps, for 99 cents each. Subcontractors employed their own hatters and seamstresses, creating a sizable number of middle-men (and women) and lowering the per-piece price paid to women employed by private firms. Fincher’s Trades Review reported Schuylkill Arsenal paid twelve and a half cents for a haversack but a subcontractor paid female workers only five cents. The contractor presumably made a profit of seven cents per piece.12 By one estimate, sewing women earned as little as $1.50 a week at a time when inflation and shortages raised the price of all necessities.13

Seamstresses addressed their first petition against private contracting to Secretary of War Simon Cameron in August 1861.14 They argued, “we do most emphatically and earnestly protest against, and vigorously and righteously denounce the infamous contract system, by which we are robbed of more than half our wages, while it puts large profits into the pockets of a few speculators and contractors, and by which we are impoverished, and our government not benefited.”15 But even with the arsenal working to capacity, the army’s insatiable demand for goods outpaced production. Adolph and Keen was part of a vast network of private subcontractors with whom Colonel Crosman negotiated to fill orders. The inequalities of the system troubled critics who saw contractors as opportunists who paid soldiers’ wives starvation wages for their arduous work while their husbands risked their lives on the battlefield.16

Tensions between the seamstresses Crosman climaxed in the tense summer of July 1863, when he laid-off more than 100 women who “belong[ed] to families opposed to the war” and those unable to provide written evidence of their relationship to army soldiers.”17 Two days after the layoffs, 145 women signed a petition to Cameron’s successor Edwin M. Stanton demanding their jobs back, strongly refuting the army’s spurious linking of the layoffs with a lack of patriotism and railing against Crosman for “taking the work from us and giving it to the Contractors who will not pay wages on which we can live.”18

The seamstresses eventually won the sympathies of Lincoln, who intervened to raise their wages, but the army’s system of private contracting remained firmly in place, ensuring handsome profits for firms and low wages for women in the needle trades.

Women used the meager wages they earned by sewing to supplement money they received from soldier-husbands and sons. Women’s incomes often made the difference between remaining at home or seeking shelter at an almshouse. Families that lost the financial support of men to the war effort faced poverty, separation, and displacement.19 Standing between the wives of Union soldiers and these dire circumstances were a multitude of state and local relief organizations.

State and local relief varied widely throughout the North during the war. Massachusetts and New Hampshire encouraged enlistment by offering advance payments on bounties and aid to soldiers’ families. Pennsylvania left the sustenance of the families of soldiers to local relief agencies or to overseers of the poor. City and county relief societies providing support were privately funded and run by middle-class board members. Relief boards, including Bucks County’s, ruled on the applications of hundreds of women each month who sought payments of 50 cents to $2.50 weekly to help support themselves and their children. To qualify for relief, women had to be residents and their husbands taxpayers.20 Like Bucks County’s organization, not all local societies extended aid to the families of drafted soldiers. A woman applying for relief needed to provide proof of her marriage to a soldier and that the county in which she lived had received credit for his service.

Elizabeth Wert of Armagh Township appealed to the Mifflin County Relief to Families of Civil War Soldiers, seeking support for her and her eight children.21 Her husband Jonas had been drafted into Company 13 of the 88th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers in March 1865. Even with a large brood of children Elizabeth waited two months before seeking help from the relief board. During those eight weeks, she found “Two Taxpayers” to accompany her to the relief office, and the men added their signatures to her application, providing it with more weight, perhaps, than most. Elizabeth signed the application with an x, indicating that someone else filled out the form. Even with her husband serving in a regiment she needed endorsements from three men before she might be considered worthy of so little support.

If Elizabeth Wert’s application was approved, she would face more hurdles. After a woman qualified, her behavior was carefully scrutinized by the board. Women were cut from the rolls when their husbands deserted, were discharged, or died; they were also dropped for claiming more children than they had or when they failed to live up to board members’ standards of propriety. The Board of Relief of Bucks County Board of County Commissioners dismissed women when their husbands or sons were discharged by the army, but what are historians to make of an entry excising Elmira Pfrender (sic), wife of Joseph, because “she has not acted as a virtuous wife should have done, and her two children she has put in Bucks County Alms House?”22 The dismissal of Pfrender has a number of probable explanations. Placing children in the almshouse – as did many women of the period – was a last resort; if Pfender did so, she intended to retrieve them as soon as she had the means. Women used a variety of institutions, including almshouses and asylums, as temporary shelters for their children after they lost their jobs or became ill and could not rely on their husbands or families for support. If Pfrender failed to report the change in her household to the board, members would have suspected she was attempting to deceive them by drawing more money than she deserved. When the board ruled that Pfrender had not been virtuous, they may have been acting on information or rumors, for there was certainly a great deal of the latter, particularly in communities with divided loyalties. On the other hand, Pfrender might have “taken up” with another man in her husband’s absence. Women enduring a hardscrabble existence in rural Pennsylvania tried a number of different living arrangements to make ends meet, including combining residences, living with kin, or hiring themselves and their children out to neighbors. While these arrangements allowed women to maximize their meager financial resources, relief board members interpreted them as evidence of immorality.23

For many women the war did not end in the spring of 1865. Mary Raivley’s war had not ended by late October, prompting her to write to Major H. H. Gregg, Chief of Transportation and Telegraph Department in Pennsylvania. She simply wanted her son’s remains returned to her. Raivley requested railroad passes to send one of her son’s comrades to retrieve his body. She was anxious to give him a proper burial. “He died an honorable death,” Raivley explained to Gregg, “he gave his life for his country and he Noble [nobly] performed his part as a private.”24

In recounting her son’s sacrifice, Raivley also reminded Gregg of her own. She gave her son to the cause, and she sought repayment in the form of a body to bury. Throughout Pennsylvania, long after the guns fell silent and the soldiers mustered out, mothers, wives, and daughters sought to pick up the pieces and move on. For many, the period of mourning could not commence until a soldier’s body was brought home.

Raivley faced a number of hurdles in seeking to bury her son. The U.S. War Department did not arrange for large-scale transportation of bodies from battlefields and camp hospitals in the South until 1867. During the war, identification and interment of the fallen were irregular and uneven, offering grieving families little resolution and no opportunity to ensure that loved ones experienced a “good death,” one attended by family members and in which the condition of the dying man’s soul could be affirmed.25 Although states often bore the cost of reburial on an ad-hoc basis, in response to mounting public pressure Governor Curtin agreed to reimburse family members for the costs of retrieving Pennsylvania’s soldiers from Southern battlefields.26 The program, announced in autumn 1865, offered to pay for one family member to travel beyond Washington, D.C., to locate and retrieve the corpse.

Raivley’s first attempt failed when the undertaker she hired returned without her son’s body and refused to refund the $25 she had given him. Undiscouraged, she communicated the urgency that many mothers, fathers, and wives felt when they went in search of a body to bury. “I must get his remains in some way,” Raivley entreated Gregg, “if I hav to beg my way to the battle field my self.” With sketchy information gleaned from her son’s comrades, Raivley believed she could find him. From Philadelphia, Raivley asked Gregg for a pass to Washington, suggesting that whereas Curtin agreed to reimburse for travel beyond the nation’s capital, the commonwealth also provided for travel to Washington. Finally and rather pointedly, Raivley makes mention of the special attention given to the Gettysburg dead who were treated to a more proper burial. “If he was laid in a cemetery like those that fell at Gettysburg I could be content,” Raivley explains, but, instead she is left to “think that he must lay on a open battle field for his bons to be scattered.”

Mourning was not confined to family. Women turned out en masse to mourn the death of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in 1863 when black-clad and veiled women formed what one historian has called “a uniformed sorority of grief.”27 Lincoln’s death occasioned a massive outpouring of grief in the North and brought together families who had also experienced personal losses, “Half a million sorrow-stricken people,” filled the streets of Philadelphia on Saturday, April 23, 1865, to see Lincoln’s casket where, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, flags were all at half-mast and heavily draped, and not a house in all this vest city, but exhibited signs of grief, the weeds of woe.”28 Dressed in black and all shades of grey, donning bonnets and veils, women quietly slipped in and out of buildings and hurried along darkened streets, lending palpable sadness to the melancholy.

The proscribed “weeds of woe,” such as mourning bonnets, enabled women to show respect for loved ones lost in battle. To remember them they also created a variety of objects incorporating photographs, pieces of clothing, and hair. Women created hair wreaths (memento mori) using skills they learned from their mothers and that they passed on to their daughters.

The eagerness with which family members requested photographs of their loved ones at war and sought tangible evidence of their passing – a lock of hair, a shred of clothing, a worn Bible – spoke to the same urge as hair wreaths, the desire to remember the dead, to honor them, and to hold on to their memory. These impulses were shared by women and men throughout the Keystone State, and the folk traditions behind these pieces connected women from one generation to the next.

Mourning clothing and memento mori were created by women attempting to come to terms with the war’s losses, to mark a moment in their lives when everything had changed. Women who applied For state pensions also marked that moment of change but their applications are a telling reminder of the continuity of rural life in Civil War Pennsylvania as well. Susan Wünder of Reading, Berks County, was left with six children to support when her soldier husband died. When she applied for a pension state officials asked for proof of their ages; Wünder brought in the family Bible where her late husband had listed the births of their children under the heading “Familien Register – Births.” It takes little to imagine the emotions Susan must have felt when she looked at the names written down by a proud father upon the births of his children. Now the responsibility would fall to Susan to keep the record – perhaps she began with Henry’s death on August 26, 1863.29 Susan Wünder’s application for a pension marked the great changes the war had wrought on her family and so many like hers; that families like the Wünders continued to record the most important moments in their Bibles is a testament to the enduring continuities of life in Pennsylvania’s rural communities.



  1. Robert Sandow, Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009), 56-58. Pennsylvania’s number of men serving was second only to New York.
  2. Civil War Veterans Card File, PSA, RG-19, 12.
  3. Linda A. Ries, Head of the Arrangement and Description Section at the Pennsylvania State Archives, says Matthew Taylor’s memoir, handwritten in a small ruled memoranda book in the 1890s, was donated to the archives in 2005 and is now part of Manuscript Group #7, the Military Manuscripts Collection, Item #409. His reminiscences appear in their entirety in “The Civil War Memoir of Matthew A. Taylor” edited by Linda A. Ries and Louis Waddell, transcribed by Christine Geiselman, Susquehanna Heritage: A Journal of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, Vols. 6-7, 2008-09, pp. 73-89.
  4. The Harrisburg Patriot and Union, September 11 and 14, 1861, as cited in William Miller, Civil War City: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1861-1865, the Training of an Army (Shippensburg: White Mane Publishing, 1990), 60-61, identified Fuller as Elvira Ibecker, a young woman who took her male identity seriously, drinking whiskey and chewing tobacco with her fellow enlistees. Ibecker likely had some confidants in the 46th, soldiers who know her gender but who were willing to keep it from her commanding officers. The same newspaper reported that Sophia Cryder of Carlisle, Cumberland County, enlisted with the Sumner Rifles, staying with the company for a week, during which time she was “in the habit of accompanying the men on their excursions to the river to bathe.”
  5. In Philadelphia, the saloon expanded to include several floors of a large building, one which became a volunteer hospital. The expanded complex provided a number of supplies to the passing troops and served as a clearing house of information. Frank H. Taylor, Philadelphia in the Civil War (Philadelphia: published by the city, 1913), 206-210. Leland D. Baldwin, Pittsburgh: The Story of a City (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1913), 320-321.
  6. In a duplicate, Lovett makes reference to the rate charged to “other customers,” suggesting that Lovett perhaps stored other items at her Philadelphia home. The second invoice charges the army $25, instead of $20. Although the second invoice seems to have been approved, there is no indication if and what Lovett was paid for her storage services.
  7. Bates, History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, MOA, 218-219.
  8. Fourteen receipts, for monthly totals of December 1861: $19.29, January 1862: $39.80, February 1862: $29.81, and March $16.04. Rebecca Masters also submitted her own invoices for washing, but these totals were not included in the above estimate.
  9. Miller, Civil War City, 81-82.
  10. Miller, 80-81. Black soldiers were more likely to be afflicted than white soldiers. Gangrene and Glory, 210-211.
  11. James Farley, Making Arms in the Machine Age: Philadelphia’s Frankford Arsenal, 1816-1870 (State College: Penn State Press, 1994), 69-86.
  12. “A Word for Our Starving Seamstresses,” Fincher’s Trade Review, 12 December 1863, 6.
  13. Rachel Filene Seidman, “Beyond Sacrifice: Women and Politics on the Pennsylvania Homefront During the Civil War.” Ph.D. diss, Yale University, 1995, 133.
  14. “Petition,” Hannah Rose to Simon Cameron, August 1, 1861, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Records of the Quartermaster General, RG 92, Box 798 (old), e.225.
  15. “A Meeting of Female Operatives in the Arsenal,” North American and U.S. Gazette, 4 September 1861, 1.
  16. An 1863 Harper’s Weekly cartoon, for example, lambasted contractors as parasites living off poor soldiers’ wives. Among other images, the cartoon portrays the contractor’s wife – who is rotund in comparison to the soldier’s wife – shopping for fineries. The criticism is aimed simultaneously at the contractor for his exploitative business practices and at his wife – and by extension other middle-class women – who ought to show more restraint. “Service and Shoddy – A Picture of the Times,” Harper’s Weekly, 24 October 1863, 677.
  17. “Commendable Movement,” North American and U.S. Gazette, 27 July 1863, 1. Giesberg, Army at Home, 119-123. The original order came from Pennsylvania Congressman William D. Kelly to Colonel G. H. Crosman, Assistant Quartermaster, in charge of the Schuylkill Arsenal. In the end, this was largely irrelevant to the seamstresses, as they held Crosman responsible. Colonel G. H. Crosman to Captain George Martine (sic?), July 20, 1863, NARA, RG 92, Box 1004.
  18. “Petition,” Anna Long et al to Edwin Stanton, July 29, 1863, NARA, RG 92, Box 798 (old), e.225. For background on labor relations in Civil War-era Philadelphia, see Giesberg, Army at Home, 119-123 & 136-141.
  19. Giesberg, Army at Home, 45-67.
  20. Bucks County Board of County Commissioners, Minutes of the Board of Relief, PHMC, Manuscript Group (MG) 4.
  21. Mifflin County Relief to Families of Civil War Soldiers, PHMC, MG 4.
  22. Minutes for June 1864, Bucks County Board of County Commissioners, PHMC, MG 4. See similar entry for Mary Kinsey, wife of William, Minutes for December 1863.
  23. Giesberg, Army at Home, 45-67.
  24. Mrs. Mary Raivley to H. H. Gregg, October 30, 1865, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, RG-19.29, Box 26.
  25. Officers were more likely to be shipped home. Embalming was irregular, so families were anxious to find the remains before identification became impossible. Gary Laderman, Sacred Remains: American Attitudes towards Death, 1799-1883 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996), 117-120.
  26. Curtin’s order no longer exists, but there is a collection of letters from family members seeking reimbursement at the information about this program was gleaned from letters of application, such as Mrs. William Brazer’s who referred to the reimbursement amount and Barbara Burger’s that mentions a notice in the local paper. Mrs. William Brazer to Col. H. H. Gregg, Chief of Transportation and Telegraph, December 4, 1865, PSA, RG-19.29, Box 27. Barbara Berger to Mr. Bergner, December 23, 1865, PSA, RG-19.29, Box 27.
  27. Drew Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 149.
  28. “Our Dead President in Philadelphia,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 1865, 1.
  29. Sworn testimony of Susan Wünder, Henry Wünder Pension File, January 14, 1864, February 1, 1864, PHMC, RG-2: Civil War Pension File, 1861-1864.


The author thanks former State Museum curators Beatrice Hulsberg and John Zwierzyna and Linda A. Ries and Rich Saylor (who also edited an earlier version of this feature) of the Pennsylvania State Archives for their assistance in identifying and locating objects and documents for use as illustrations.


Judith Giesberg teaches the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, Women’s History and the History of Childhood at Villanova University, where she directs the project “Memorable Days: The Emilie Davis Diaries.” Giesberg is the author of three books on the Civil War: Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women’s Politics in Transition (2000), “Army at Home”: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (2009), and Keystone State in Crisis: Pennsylvania in the Civil War (2013). She is the Associate Editor for Book Reviews of the Journal of the Civil War Era and writes for the New York Times’ Disunion blog.