One of the great debates of our Country's history and legacy is what scholars call "the two Civil Wars": the first a matter of campaigns, generals, and troop movements and the second focusing on the ways that the great conflict affected the daily rhythms of life on farms, and in communities.
Regardless, Gettysburg was the site of the largest battle ever fought on American soil and it involved a great deal more than the resources of one single, famous town.
In six counties near Gettysburg, civilians and militia answered the first call to arms and bravely endured relentless threats and the destruction of their property. Here, women raised funds to support the war and nursed tens of thousands of wounded soldiers left behind from the battles fought in the orchards and fields. Interestingly, part of the battlefield was owned by Freeman, Abraham Brien. Although a number of Gettysburg area Black men joined volunteer militias or USCT regiments during the war, no Black veteran was interred in Soldiers' National Cemetery until 1884. Still, free men and freed men alike enlisted to fight for their own rights, and children sacrificed their security, sometimes their lives. Their combined efforts provided the turning point for the Union cause.