Civil War 150 Anniversary

April 12, 2011 by staff 

Civil War 150 Anniversary, Governor Tom Corbett today helped to launch Pennsylvania’s observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the four-year struggle between northern and southern states that forever ended slavery in the United States.

“The Civil War left an indelible mark on Pennsylvania, and the war could not have been won without the many sacrifices and contributions of its people,” Corbett said. “Nearly 338,000 Pennsylvanians fought and 33,000 died in the Civil War – a staggering number, especially when you consider Pennsylvania had fewer than 3 million residents when the war began.”

Waged from 1861-65, the Civil War resulted in more than 623,000 deaths and left hundreds of thousands of people injured.

The war erupted on April 12, 1861 in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor at the contested federal Fort Sumter. President Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to abandon the fort goaded impatient Confederates to open fire.

Fought in July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was considered a major turning point and was the only major battle fought in Pennsylvania. More men fought and died in this decisive battle than in any other battle on American soil. A strong victory for the Union delivered a severe blow to the morale of the Confederacy. Other battles and skirmishes that took place in the state occurred at Hanover, Fairfield, Hunterstown, and Monterey Pass.

Pennsylvania played a crucial role in the Union’s eventual victory. In addition to private fundraising by citizens, the state contributed vastly in terms of food, resources, and manufacturing. Pennsylvania farmers supplied food and fodder while its mines produced millions of tons of hard and soft coal. The industrial centers of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were especially important, supplying steamboats, locomotives, wagons, iron and weapons.

Pennsylvania Civil War 150 is the state’s official program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, 2011-2015. PA Civil War 150 is governed by a statewide alliance of history, heritage, arts and culture organizations convened by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the Pennsylvania Heritage Society (PHS), the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania along with a number of partner organizations across the state.

PA Civil War 150 will include numerous activities and events at the regional and local levels through 2015.

Officials leading today’s kickoff event also toured the Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show, a traveling exhibition that will visit all 67 counties during the four-year anniversary period. The Road Show will introduce the compelling stories of the Civil War to Pennsylvanians from all walks of life and of all ages.

The Road Show will ask Pennsylvanians to add their own stories, documents and artifacts to a database traveling with the Road Show. These collections will be posted on, ensuring the personal narratives of Pennsylvanians are recorded for future generations.

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