PHILADELPHIA IN THE CIVIL WAR
REPUBLICAN CONVENTION of 1856
Strong antagonism between the North and South was based on sectional
differences(cotton economy, slavery and tariffs on foreign goods). The nation was facing its most important election in a century.The newly formed Republican Party held its first convention in 1856 in Philadelphia at the Musical Fund Society. The building still exists but has seen many different uses(hall, wharehouse,condiminium etc).The election slate was Fremont/Dayton .There were 15 vicepresidential candidates including briefly Abraham Lincoln.
In 1860 the Democratic Party split in half leading to a clear chance for the Republicans.The election of Lincoln/Hamlin in 1860 was the final ignition point for the Civil War.Lincoln spoke at Independence Hall on his way to his Inauguration in Washington,DC:"I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the Declaration of Independence... Now in my view there need be no bloodshed unless forced upon the Government and then it will be forced to act in SELF-DEFENSE...I have said nothing but what I am willing to LIVE...or DIE by".
BEGINNING OF WAR
In population and railroad mileage, but not in area, the North was twice the size of the South. Although secession started earlier, the War began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, So. Carolina on April 12,1861.The governor of Pennsylvania heeded Lincoln's call for militia and called up 15 regiments for 3 months service.
The first major incident occured in Baltimore on April 19,1861 when Union troops were transferring between raillines on route to Washington,DC.The troops were attacked by a mob.Four soldiers and 12 civilians were killed and scores were injured; some form of martial law was declared throughout the War in Baltimore.
COPPERHEADS AND SOUTHERN SENTIMENT
Copperhead designated any group that would interfere with the Union conduct of the War by active rebellion or advocacy. Philadelphia had strong economic ties with the South and had its share of Copperheads. John Clifford Pemberton was born to an old Quaker family. He graduated from West Point in 1837 and received a sword from Philadelphia for service in the Mexican War. He had state-rights sentiments and married a Viginia woman.Pemberton resigned his
Federal commission and joined the Confederacy.Lee gave him command of Vicksburg which he later surrendered to US Grant. Pemberton finally returned to Philadelphia and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. His two brothers served in the Union Army.
Pierce Butler was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family and became one of the wealthiest slave owners. He courted and married Fanny Kemble,the highly successful English actress. Soon their views on slavery clashed and they were divorced.In 1861 Pierce returned to Philadelphia and he was arrested for treason. He was released but did not return to the South until after the War.
THE UNION LEAGUE CLUB
Union League Clubs were formed in the North after military and Republican losses in 1862.
The Philadelphia Union League was founded Dec.27,1862 to support patriotism and the ideals of Abraham Lincoln . Fifteen infantry or cavalry regiments were raised and 2 million Union leaflets were printed.The League helped convince Secy. War Stanton to form and equip black regiments.The League setup a Committee in 1863 to obtain employment for disabled soldiers and sailors. Its present meetinghouse was built in 1865. The League has an extensive library on the Civil War,Lincoln biographies, and portraits and sculpture of the War.
Long before the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves tried to reach freedom in Canada and the Northern States.
Philadelphia,prior to the Civil War was a center of abolition activities. A series of safe houses ('the underground railroad'RR) were setup.The Johnson House at Germantown Ave.and Washington Lane, was a vital link in the RR. Leading from the Johnson House were routes to:Jersey City, and New York; 40 mi. below on the Delaware River: and through Bucks County and Trenton.
Members of the Johnson RR included William Still (who compiled narratives of all slaves passing thru Philadelphia on their quest for freedom) ; Bishop Allen of Mother Bethel Church;
Lucretia Mott-feminist and abolitionist; Harriet Tubman (the Moses of black people who repeatedly risked her life by by conducting slaves North).
BLACK (COLORED) TROOPS
Despite his own anti-slavery sentiments, Lincoln insisted the purpose of the War was to save the Union. Pressure for abolition mounted and the President decided that emancipation could be justified as a military measure.
The Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 8,1863 applied only to slaves in the DISLOYAL STATES and not the border states.Not until 13Feb63 were blacks actively recruited into Union regiments.There were Philadelphia or Pennsylvania men in each Company raised.
A general committee was formed to raise black troops in Philadelphia.Camp William Penn was established in Cheltenham,PA just over the city line and 11 regiments were trained there.under the command of Col.Louis Wagner. He had been severely wounded in the War. Land was made available by Lucretia Mott a Quaker abolitionist.A free officers school was established at 12th and chestnut Sts. to train the white officers for the Black troops.
Approximately 180,000 blacks comprising 162 units served in the Union Army, with an additional 19,000 in the Navy. Blacks took part in every campaign 1n 1864-65 except the 'March Through Georgia'.
FORTS AND PRISONS
FORT MIFLIN (near the Airport) was one of the strategic harbor defenses for Philadelphia. During the Civil War, Fort Mifflin held Union, civilian, and Confederate prisoners. The civilian prisoners were held for draft-evasion,anti-war sentiment and desertion.
At its maximum Fort Mifflin held 215 prisoners and overflow were sent to FORT DELEWARE,(further down the river).A Rev. Dr Handy was arrested for calling the Union flag an "emblem of oppression". he refused to take an oath of allegiance and was imprisoned for 15 months. Several members of the Deleware legislature were briefly imprisioned.
An important case exparte Milligan) restoring habeus corpus and limiting martial law to States in active rebellion, was heard from in the Supreme Court(Justice Taney presiding). President Lincoln ignored the ruling and removed habeus corpus as he did previously(on a line from Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington,DC.)
SANITARY COMMISSION (CORPS)
At the outbreak of the War,it was forseen that an organization was
needed to relieve the suffering of soldiers in the field; a predecessor to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Corps was commissioned by the Secy. of War in June 1861. Humane practices of the Corp included relief supplies, staffing hospital ships and railroad cars, food, medicine and clothing to patients and prisoners The Corp
also inspected camps and hospitals to reduce spread of disease. The Corp was organized in New York and then immediately in Philadelphia. Frederick Law Olmstead (designer of Central Park and a draft of Fairmont Park)was the Executive Director of the Corps for most of the War.
To obtain necessary funds, Sanitary Fairs were held in major Northern cities including Philadelphia. Since this was an Election Year,President and Mrs Lincoln attended the Fair in June 1864. Pres.
Lincoln said (16June64) "that at best WAR IS TERRIBLE and this War of ours in its magnitude and duration is one of the most terrible...it
has destroyed property, lives and homes. We accept this War for a worthy object and will end when this OBJECT is obtained."
The Fair of just three weeks' duration, was organized by local women and gave them the opportunity to make decisions about
charities to support, to work in the public sector, knit communities together and develop an important undertaking.The Fair netted almost $1,046,000 and was located in Logan Square with horticultural exhibits, art galleries, modern machinery, restaurants, a brewery, books, etc.
The Sanitary Corps distributed $15 million in supplies and $5 million in money during the War. Philadelphia had two hostels (Union Volunteer and Cooper Shop) run by women near the raillines and ferries to the South at Washington St.It is estimated that the Cooper Shop and Union Refreshment Volunteers provided more than 400,000 to 900,000 meals respectively during the War.
One of the most interesting in the area is Laurel Hill Cemetery which is a National Historic Landmark.It was the first major landscaped cemetery built in Philadelphia by John Notman architect, and was laid out along the
Schuylkill river. There are many symbolic gravestones: lamb-innocence; broken column-a life cut short; ivy-immortality etc.There are >40 civil war generals buried there. Victorians buried there include: General George Mead; Frank Furness architect and medal of honor winner; Thomas Sully-painter; MW Baldwin-locomotive inventer;Langhorne Wister-Brevet Brigadier General; Henry Disston-saw manufacturer etc.
The National Cemetery at Haines St./Limekiln Pike Philadelphia has the remains of Galusha Pennypacker, Medal of honor recipient and the youngest General in the Civil War. In the Cemetery is a monument to 224 Confederate soldiers who died in military hospitals or prisons in the area.
Ivy Hill Cemetery has an interesting story. Melville Freas of 150th
PA Volunteer Cavalry had a life-size statue made of himself in 1914 at a cost of $5000. Every Memorial Day he would march with his grandchildren and fire a one gun salute over the statue until he was buried there. Louis Wagner who was Commandant of Camp William Penn training grounds for black troops, is buried here.
At least 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War--Union battle deaths=11,070 disease=250,152. Confederate deaths were less accurate but were comparible. There were many terrible tolls in a single engagement: a least 63 Union regiments lost up to 50% in a single battle.
Philadelphia received many of the wounded and setup the first military hospital. At the height of the War, the City cared for more than 150,000 soldiers and sailors in 20 Army hospitals. Philadelphia was a noted center for medical treatment and education.
Satterlee Hospital in Southwest Philadelphia and Mower Hospital in
NorthWest Philadelphia were the two major general hospitals with >6000
beds.Mower hospital was named after Thomas Mower an early Army surgeon.The details of Mower Hospital are shown in another website.
Mower hospital, a 47-building complex, was built on the highest level ground on 27 acres. There was a good supply of safe water and the Hospital linked to rail-lines which connected to Southern battlefields. Wounded would arrive at a depot at Broad and Washington Sts. and then sent on a local line to Mower; a journey that was called the seven circles of hell to heaven.
Mower was designed by John MacArthur Jr.the architect of the Philadelphia City Hall and 24 other temporary army hospitals. The plans were also used by several foreign governments.
Mower Hospital was laid out logically; with central services (administrative, dining, kitchens, heat,operating rooms, etc.) grouped in the middle. The wards were arranged like spokes on a wheel radiating out from the central area. Although antisepsis was not fully understood the supply of good water, ventilation, and the placement of the wards helped to control infection.
Returned to Duty 9,799
Mower Hospital was a considerable advance in the treatment of war
wounds and disease. The Army Medical Department created an effective service for the Union in treatment of battlefield wounds and long-term care of wounded.
MONUMENTS AND MARKERS
The Civil War monument in MarketSquare, Germantown is remakable-the height to the soldiers cap is 85 feet is made of New England granite, except for the capstone which was quarried from the Gettysburg battlefield. Inscriptions read "they never fail who die in a great cause" Liberty and Union Now and Forever One".The Ellis Post #6 of the GAR, was instumental in erecting the Monument.
Fairmount Park has a number of statues and monuments:Gen.George Meade, Ulysses S Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Smith Memorial Arch,etc.
The State of Pennsylvania began a marker program in 1946 to highlight historical events and buildings.In the Philadelphia area Civil War markers include: Mower Army Hospital, the Johnson House, Lucretia Mott,Fort Miflin, Camp Wm.Penn, the Music Fund Society, etc.
Two Civil War museums exist in Philadelphia: THE CIVIL WAR MUSEUM AND LIBRARY--18TH & PINE. The museum had serious problems including possible loss of its collection. Recently the Museum received a grant to inventory and assess its collection and its location.The holdings are noteworthy(Life-size casts of Lincoln,Meade's uniforms, a playbill from Fords Theater on assasination night, Old Baldy etc.
The GAR MUSEUM (4278 Griscom St.in the NorthEast) houses artifacts from posts of the GAR includig remnants of battleflags,part of pillow on which A.Lincoln died, stockade fencing-Andersonville, handcuffs which John Wilkes Booth was to use on Lincoln, etc.
This brief survey lists the number and kinds of Civil War artifacts and memories which exist in the Philadelphia area. We should SUPPORT
EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THEM from the most DIVISIVE War in our history.
Blockson Charles L. "Philadelphia 1639-2000" Arcadia Publ. Charlestown,SC 2000
Bollet Alfred Jay MD "Civil War Medicine" Galen Press 2002
Dorwart Jeffery M "Fort Mifflin of Philadelphia" U of PA Press 1998 pgs 112-117
Dusinberre, William "Civil War Issues in Philadelphia 1856-1865 Univ PA Press 1965
Gallman, J.Matthew "Mastering Wartime:A Social History of Philadelphia during the Civil War" Cambridge Univ Press 1990.
Keels, Thomas "Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries" Arcadia Press Phila.PA 2004
Magner Blake A. "At Peace With Honor: The Civil War Burials of Laurel Hill Cemetery" CW Historicals Collinswood,NJ 1997
McPherson, James M. "Battle Cry of Freedom" Ballantine Books New York 1988.
------------"Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction" 2ndEd McGraw Hill New York 1992
Sauers, Richard "A Guide to Civil War Philadelphia" Dacapo Press Perseus Book Group Cambridge,MA 2003
Sher, Sanford P. Mower Civil War Hospital Germantown Crier 50(2):
Whiteman Maxwell Gentlemen in Crisis: The FirstCentury of the Union League of Philadelphia
Wilson, W Emerson Fort Delaware in the Civil War Fort Delaware Society