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Governor Curtin helps Lincoln preserve the Union at Harrisburg

Harrisburg Capitol
Harrisburg Capitol

Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin was located on the major East-West and North-South rail ways. This made it the ideal mustering point for soldiers heading off to battle points. Harrisburg also served as a supply depot, hospital, and prisoner-of-war camp.

Camp Curtain annexed the County Agricultural Society’s post in Harrisburg to accommodate the rallying soldiers in the wake of the bombing of Fort Sumpter. Lincoln called for 75000 men to protect the fragile Union, and the Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin responded. In total, more than 300,000 soldiers came through Camp Curtin, making it the largest federal camp at the time of the Civil War. Harper’s Weekly reproduced a drawing of Harrisburg’s Capitol on October 4, 1862. The drawing, submitted by Mr. Theodore R. Davis, depicts the excitement of troops mustering in the vicinity of the Harrisburg Capitol building. Governor Curtin reported that there were “75,000 Pennsylvanians under arms.” Every county in the state of Pennsylvania were represented. So many soldiers that the encampment of tents, at Camp Curtin, spilled over into the capitol grounds. The court house, the Senate and the House of Representatives were allocated for use by the militia men. Friendly loyalists opened their homes to help and provide for the volunteer soldiers.

If you visit the area of Camp Curtin, a blue history marker commemorates the spot; and, don’t miss out on Camp Curtin BBQ Station at 2504 North 6th Street, Harrisburg, PA.