“We will close . . . you know nothing about the lesson anyhow”: Pennsylvania College during the War

By Meg Sutter ’16

Twenty-nine years had passed since the founding of Pennsylvania College by Samuel Simon Schmucker in 1832 when war broke out between the states. Due to the college’s location just north of the Mason-Dixon Line, the threat of battle near Gettysburg loomed until in July 1863 it became all too real.

Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North was not completely unexpected, and college life would be drastically impacted by the threat of oncoming Confederate forces. The winter term of 1860-1861 was just ending when war broke out in April of 1861. Many of the townspeople were not in support of slavery at the outbreak of the war, but they also had hoped to avoid a bloody conflict. The Quakers living in central Pennsylvania, specifically in what is called the Quaker Valley today only a few miles from Gettysburg, may have contributed to this sentiment. The majority of the townspeople of Gettysburg, who numbered fewer than the size of Gettysburg College’s current student population of 2600, were carriage makers, tanners, cobblers, and the usual merchants, bankers, and tavern keepers. Gettysburg’s leading industry was that of carriage making, and most of the owners sold to markets south of Gettysburg across the Mason-Dixon Line. The coming war would mean the loss of those consumers. Parents of Pennsylvania College students were also wary of sending their sons to school in a town threatened by invasion. Continue reading ““We will close . . . you know nothing about the lesson anyhow”: Pennsylvania College during the War”

Warriors of Dauphin County: The 127th Pennsylvania Volunteers

By Kevin Lavery ’16

By war’s end, one would command the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg. Another would serve as military governor of the battlefield in the wake of the clash. Two brothers would become colonel and lieutenant colonel in another local regiment and be joined by others of their original outfit. Not all would survive the relatively brief duration of their service.

Those who did left a legacy beyond their contribution to the war effort: several had eminent careers in public service, while others found success as journalists, innkeepers, and physicians. One would even live to the ripe age of 98 years and was hailed as a local legend. But for nine months in late 1862 and early 1863, these men lived and fought together as the 127th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, “familiarly known as the Dauphin County Regiment.” Twice, the regiment would storm Marye’s Heights, and by the time it returned home, the patriotism and devotion of the men had only grown.

Continue reading “Warriors of Dauphin County: The 127th Pennsylvania Volunteers”