Guide for Classroom #38A90E - PA Civil War The Civil War in Pennsylvania Schools: The Civil War is...

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Transcript of Guide for Classroom #38A90E - PA Civil War The Civil War in Pennsylvania Schools: The Civil War is...

  • Developed by Thomas C. Clark

    with the assistance of

    the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

    and the Pennsylvania Heritage Society

    with funding from a Teaching American History grant

    from the U.S. Department of Education to the

    Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit

    Guide for Classroom Teachers

    Study of the Civil War at the Pennsylvania State Archives

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    Guide for Study of Civil War in PA State Archives

    Introduction: The Pennsylvania State Archives has many records relating to the Civil War. Some are official

    government documents such as muster rolls and regimental records. Others are non-governmental records such

    as personal diaries and photographs. The purpose of this guide is to demonstrate to classroom teachers some

    ways the resources of the State Archives can be used to research and teach the Civil War at various grade levels.

    Recently the State Archives undertook an extensive project to preserve Pennsylvania’s Civil War muster rolls.

    These documents, organized by regiment and company, list names of soldiers mustering out of the United States

    Volunteers at the end of the Civil War. They are a good jumping off place for research and study on

    Pennsylvania Volunteer units in the war, and they generate questions that researchers would love to answer

    about who these men were and the details of some of their lives before, during, and after the war. The Archives

    can be a tremendous source of such information.

    Background to Pennsylvania’s Role in the War: The Keystone State played an integral part in the war.

    Governor Andrew G. Curtin was a firm supporter of President Lincoln’s war effort, and under Curtin’s

    leadership the state provided over 350,000 soldiers and sailors, more than any other northern state excepting

    New York. Pennsylvania served as a vital resource for military equipment and food for the Union armies, and

    was the location of the war’s largest battle.

    At the beginning of the war, the United States Army was surprisingly small. Fewer than 14,000 men composed

    the entire United States military. When the Civil War began, President Lincoln called for volunteers to swell

    the ranks of the army to put down the rebellion. As soldiers enlisted in the infantry, they were assigned to a

    company, commonly from a local area. Usually, about ten companies were organized into a regiment, which

    was numbered in the order formed. For example, the 87 th

    Pennsylvania included companies recruited primarily

    from York, Adams, and Dauphin counties. This pattern is true for companies and regiments from all over the

    state. Most records for Pennsylvania soldiers can be researched by regiment.

    The Civil War in Pennsylvania Schools: The Civil War is taught in Pennsylvania public schools in

    elementary, middle, and high school levels. The Pennsylvania Academic Standards for History dictate

    knowledge of the overall Civil War and in particular the roles played by significant Pennsylvanians in the war

    as this turning point in our history in many ways determined the role our federal government plays in our lives


    How Can the Pennsylvania State Archives Help?

    The Pennsylvania State Archives is the main repository for all state records. All official government documents

    are preserved here. The Archives also maintains hundreds of personal documents, diaries, photographs, and

    such which have been donated by families or individuals over the decades.

    The Archives contains two types of records as mentioned above. Record Groups are official government

    documents. Manuscript Groups are all other sources not generated by government entities. These documents

    are arranged into series of like materials and assigned numbers. Some of the most commonly researched

    documents have been microfilmed and are easily read in the archives building. Those which are not on

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    microfilm are stored primarily in the archives tower, accessible only to archives staff. Upon request, staff

    members will retrieve documents researchers would like to use.

    Record groups that may be helpful for Civil War research and instruction include the following:

    RG-2—Auditor General

    • Civil War service and Pension accounts—this is a listing of who applied for pensions in 1861 and 1862.

    The actual pension applications for Pennsylvania veterans are located at the National Archives in

    Washington, DC.

    • Records relating to Civil War Border Claims—primarily for counties along the PA/MD border.

    Pennsylvanians were allowed to submit claims for damages from the various attacks on Chambersburg,

    the Gettysburg campaign, and elsewhere in the southern part of the State.

    RG-19—Department of Military Affairs

    • Civil War Veterans’ Card File—lists all PA soldiers alphabetically. This can be accessed online at as part of ARIAS, an online system which has digitized records of

    Pennsylvania participation in several military conflicts.

    • Muster rolls and related records—muster rolls, correspondence, regimental papers

    • Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers—this reads much like the muster rolls

    • Records of drafted men and substitutes—primarily draft lists and papers

    • Substitutes’ depositions

    • Alien and conscientious objector depositions

    • Military Dispatches (Sent and Received)—Governor Curtin’s telegraph messages

    • See also the Adjutant General’s records, Surgeon General’s records, Quartermaster records

    RG-25—Records of Special Commissions

    • Board of Commissioners on Gettysburg Monuments

    • Camp Curtin Commission

    • Commission to Supervise Flag Transfer

    • 50 th

    Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg Commission—includes register of participants

    • General George Gordon Meade National Statue Commission

    • Pennsylvania Chickamauga-Chattanooga Battlefield Commission

    • Pennsylvania at Cold Harbor Battlefield Memorial Commission

    RG-26—Records of the Department of State

    • Executive Correspondence—Letters to and from Governor Curtin

    • Return of Soldiers’ Votes

    Manuscript Groups which may be helpful for Civil War research and instruction

    MG-6—Diaries and Journals Collection

    MG-7—Military Manuscripts Collection

    MG-8—Pennsylvania Collection

    MG-11—Map Collection

    MG-15—Hiram C. Alleman Papers (127 and 36 PVI)

    MG-17—Samuel Penniman Bates Collection

    MG-33—Simon Cameron Papers

    MG-60—Grand Army of the Republic Collection

    MG-70—Frank Haskell Papers

    MG 83—McCormick Family Papers

    MG-95—Daniel Musser Collection of Letters, Songs, and Poems

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    MG-97—Richard Oakford Collection

    MG-98—Orbison Family Papers—Philadelphia Ladies’Aid Society

    MG-108—Peter Rothermel Papers—Gettysburg

    MG-119—Stackhouse Family Papers—151 PVI

    MG-144—John F. Hartranft Papers—Lincoln assassination trial and imprisonment

    MG-147—John Anderson Papers

    MG-176—General Richard Coulter Papers—11 th


    MG-211—Richmond (Mansfield) Ladies Soldiers Aid Society Papers

    MG-234—Bucktails (42 nd

    PA Infantry Regiment) collection

    Other manuscript groups may be helpful as well

    Web Resources

    Royer, Douglas L. “Guide to Civil War Holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives”

    This is an on-line finding aid for those who would like to research Civil War materials owned by the

    Archives, available at the PHMC website by going to and clicking on “Resources.” From

    there, click on “Civil War.” It is much more detailed than this guide.

    Weeks, James P. and Linda A. Ries, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Guide to Civil War

    Holdings, 2003.

    This is an in-house finding aid to all Civil War collections of all PHMC properties around the state,

    including the State Archives. Patrons can view it by visiting any PHMC property connected to the PHMC LAN

    system – appointments are recommended before visiting any PHMC property other than the State Archives.

    Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers. 5 volumes. Harrisburg, PA.: B. Singerly,

    State Printer, 1869-1871.

    These volumes give a brief history of each Pennsylvania regiment and list its officers and soldiers.

    Information is provided on most soldiers’ status—killed, wounded, survived the war, and so on. The text of this

    work can be found on line as well in PDF format

    National Archives

    This source contains military records, pension records, 1890 census records, and all manner of items

    helpful to Civil War research

    Pennsylvania State Government Websites:

    Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

    State Archives

    Pennsylvania State Library

    Pennsylvania Power Library

    Other sources from other locations

    Dyer’s Compendium