The Civil War and Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s role in the Civil War extends beyond defining moments such as the Battle of Gettysburg. Its history throughout the conflict demonstrated a culture of compassion and resourcefulness that proved to be one of the North’s greatest assets during the war.
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The national wartime charity organizations founded during this era are just one example. It started as a local effort to help friends and family affected by the war, but quickly became a patriotic act performed to aid in the national war effort. 

Using their vast experience organizing and managing a variety of successful charitable, fraternal and social organizations, Pennsylvanians focused that strength and founded national charitable organizations to address issues plaguing the government, including medical care and supply shortages.  They donated their time and money to acquire food, medicine and other items for soldiers in need. 

Pennsylvania is filled with historic sites, museums and monuments to commemorate contributions like this and many others, providing visitors with the chance to experience its rich history firsthand.  

Visit the town of Columbia, where residents set fire to its bridge to stop the Confederate’s eastward advance forcing the troops to head west instead — a pivotal change which eventually led to the Battle of Gettysburg, turning the tide of the war. In June, don’t miss Flames Across the Susquehanna, a Civil War 150 River Towns event dedicated to commemorating the burning of the bridge that features fireworks and other activities for the whole family.

Explore Greater Reading’s Civil War Trail and learn about the innovation and dedication of the Pennsylvania people to the war effort in areas apart from battle including the manufacturing and distribution of supplies and stops along the Underground Railroad.

If you find yourself in the city of Brotherly Love, visit the beautiful, historic building that houses the Union League of Philadelphia. There, you will discover Civil War era collections that reflect its founding mission: to support the policies of President Abraham Lincoln.

Dive into the key issues of war from the Civil War perspective such as the military draft, enlistment of minorities, overt political partisanship and the costs of war at the Mercer Museum’s exhibit, “Turning Points: Civil War, 1863-1864.” This exhibit runs April 26–August 25, 2013, and if you’re in the area on August 23, take part in the Civil War Doylestown Walking Tour that marks the end of the exhibit.

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