At the Heritage Center of the Union League is a public exhibit displaying a flag that flew over the Philadelphia Brigade at Gettysburg during the Confederates' attack known as Pickett's Charge, and the podium President Abraham Lincoln later used to give the Gettysburg Address. And at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a large collection of papers and personal correspondence of Gen. Meade along with other Civil War records, newspapers, and images. For Philadelphians in , "there was no way of avoiding the war," said Andrew Coldren, historian and administrator curator of the Salem County Historical Society and consultant for the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia.
Units from "New England states came in by train and stopped here," Coldren said. Tens of thousands of weary troops took advantage of the city's so-called refreshment saloons that provided food, drinks, and company.
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Today, the buildings are gone, but the hospitality shown in them is remembered in books such as Philadelphia in the Civil War, which was published by the city in Anyone who thinks there is any lack of support for the war has only to march through Philadelphia. For Southern Gen. Robert E. Lee, Philadelphia would have been a plum.
It was a financial, political, naval, shipping, and rail hub with a strong military tradition and the two largest hospitals in the North, Satterlee in West Philadelphia and Mower in Chestnut Hill. In the summer of , the City of Brotherly Love also looked like an armed camp. Anxious crowds gathered outside newspaper offices near Chestnut and Third Streets to read headlines posted on bulletin boards and wait for papers to come off the presses. After two days of desperate fighting in Gettysburg, the stage was set for the climactic attack - winner take all.
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With bayonets fixed and the Stars and Bars fluttering overhead, 12, battle-hardened Confederates charged across an open field toward a copse of trees on Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg on July 3. Among the Union soldiers awaiting them was Gen. Alexander Webb's Philadelphia Brigade, which helped repulse the Southern onslaught. He and Brig. American flags and bunting appeared all over the city as Philadelphians moved their anger from abolitionists to southern sympathizers. A mob threatened the home of the Palmetto Flag , a secessionist newspaper. The police and Mayor Alexander Henry were able to prevent the mob from causing damage, but the newspaper shutdown shortly after.
Other newspapers which also had a pro-southern slant also suffered from dwindling circulation. Other people with suspected pro-southern ties displayed American flags to avoid trouble. The initial enthusiasm at the beginning of the war soon diminished, but critics were still targeted. Around August federal authorities arrested eight people for expressing pro-southern sympathies. Most of the people were released soon after, but one, the son of William H.
Winder , was held for more than a year. Authorities also shutdown a pro-southern weekly newspaper called the Christian Observer.
Founding a Commonwealth
The arrest of the well respected politician caused local Republicans embarrassment and he was released after direct orders from the federal government. City Democrats used Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus , and the Emancipation Proclamation as ammunition against Republicans. However many in Philadelphia felt similar to The Philadelphia Inquirer which said in a July article "in this war there can be but two parties, patriots and traitors. To his fellow Democrats Samuel J. Randall , the only Democrat from Philadelphia in Congress, was closer to Republicans than his own party.
In June , General Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania in the Gettysburg Campaign. As word reached Philadelphia that the Confederate army was marching on Harrisburg some miles to the west, Philadelphians felt no urgency to prepare the city to defend itself. So on June 26, Major-General Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana took command of the military district of Philadelphia and began to build defensive entrenchments, with the help of volunteers recruited by Mayor Henry.
At the beginning of July, Pennsylvania governor Andrew Gregg Curtin came to the city hoping to rally the city out of its lack of urgency. The threat of invasion ended on July 3, when Robert E. After the Gettysburg Campaign support for the war grew and hope for war opponents to make headway within the city diminished. After the victories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg , patriotic feelings grew, more people enlisted in the army and Philadelphia voted for the reelection of Republican Governor Curtin over Peace Democrat George Washington Woodward.
Battle of Gettysburg
In July the draft began to be enforced in the city. In June , the Philadelphia division of the United States Sanitary Commission organized a large fair to raise money to buy bandages and medicine. The Great Central Fair lasted two weeks, and was held in temporary buildings covering several acres of Logan Square. Thousands of works of art were lent for display, many donated for auction.
Among the visitors was President Lincoln. In the election , the majority of Philadelphians voted to reelect Abraham Lincoln and the four congressmen from Philadelphia. In December Philadelphia's streetcar companies began allowing African Americans on the streetcars or running streetcars specifically for African Americans.
The companies capitulated after African Americans and others put pressure on the companies because African American soldiers were reporting late for duty and soldiers wives experienced trouble visiting their wounded husbands in the hospitals. The city's streetcars were not fully integrated until when the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a law requiring it. The ferry would drop them off at Washington Avenue where they would march to waiting trains of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad.
Local residents formed two organizations, the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon and the Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon, to greet arriving soldiers with refreshments and letter-writing materials.
The first Philadelphia regiment sent out of the city was a volunteer formation, the Washington Grays , which was dispatched to help defend Washington, D. The unit made it to Baltimore, Maryland , where it was attacked by a secessionist mob in the Baltimore riot of The brigade retreated to Philadelphia, where George Leisenring, a German-born private , died, becoming Philadelphia's first war casualty. More than 50 infantry and cavalry regiments were eventually recruited fully or in part in Philadelphia.
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During the war, between 89, and 90, Philadelphians were on enlistment rolls. This number includes reenlistments and does not include African American soldiers from Philadelphia, whose enlistment numbers are unknown. He became active in local politics and represented the Seventh Ward on the City Council from In , Henry ran for the office of mayor as a member of the People's Party, a fusion of political parties opposed to the extension of slavery, among which was the emerging Republican party.
He was elected mayor, defeating incumbent Democrat Richard Vaux. Among his policies was strong support for the city's proposed system of public transportation, including streetcars. He also dramatically strengthened the police force, and as mayor, had direct control over its operations.
After the Civil War began in with the Confederates firing upon the U. Fort Sumter and on the flag, Philadelphia's southern leanings changed, and hostility moved from abolitionists to Southern sympathizers. Mobs threatened a secessionist newspaper and the homes of suspected sympathizers. Henry responded to the growing crisis and led efforts, along with the city police, to turn away the rioters and quell all unrest, which he would do successfully throughout the war.
Compared to the upheavals other cities experience, Philadelphia remained relatively quiet under Henry's leadership. During the Gettysburg Campaign in June , he called out the home guard under Brig.
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General A. Pleasonton to help defend the city and encouraged citizens to help strengthen the line of earthworks and small forts ringing the main approaches to Philadelphia. Henry, along with city commander Maj.