The price of war is devastation. Franklin County paid the price when its county seat, Chambersburg, was burned to the ground in 1864. Invaded in 1862, 1863, and 1864 by Confederate forces, Franklin County has the distinction of suffering more Southern incursions than any other area north of the mason-Dixon line. The first Union soldier to fall in Pennsylvania died in Greencastle. John Brown planned his raid on Harpers Ferry in Chambersburg, and twelve year old Hetty Zeilinger guided four thousand Union troops at Monterey Pass. Franklin County provided the sites for a number of major army hospitals, particularly after the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.
Prelude to Gettysburg
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.
Join us and relive a host of Civil War stories great and small that happened along Pennsylvania's rural roads and in its village squares. Just look for this Keystone Kepi symbol. It will guide you to a rich and exciting aspect of American History.