A new exhibit entitled, “Call to Arms! Emergency Militia in Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign,” opens Tuesday, May 15, at Pennypacker Mills, the historic home of a former Pennsylvania governor at 5 Haldeman Road in Schwenksville, Montgomery County.
The exhibit is one of many events commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
The call to arms was an appeal to the citizen soldiers of Pennsylvania, who were the first forces to defend the Commonwealth from the Confederate invasion in June 1863, according to a little-known story of the Civil War.
Two weeks before the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army was in Pennsylvania, living off its riches and destroying railroads and government property. Since the Union Army was slow in moving northward, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin called upon “emergency men” to defend the state.
One of these volunteers was twenty-year old Samuel Pennypacker, who would later become the 25th governor of Pennsylvania. With only a few days of training, these men were given the task of protecting the capitol at Harrisburg and delaying the Confederate advance, which had recently achieved impressive victories at Chancellorsville and Winchester.
The “emergency men” left their homes and jobs with no added incentives to protect their state.
This exhibit will examine the skirmishes that took place in Pennsylvania involving the “emergency troops” and their success in keeping the Confederate Army on the western side of the Susquehanna River, setting the stage for the Battle of Gettysburg.
Their story will be told using historical photographs, personal and military objects from the collection at Pennypacker Mills, and maps relating to the emergency forces.
The exhibit is free and open to the public on all guided tours of the Pennypacker mansion. The exhibit will stay up until May 1, 2013. Guided tours are offered year-round, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pennypacker Mills is closed Mondays and during major holidays.