Twilight of the Blue and Gray: Gettysburg College and the 1938 Reunion

By: Cameron Sauers

CWI Fellow Cameron Sauers ’21 recently interviewed Chief of Interpretation at Gettysburg National Military Park Chris Gwinn about the tour that Ranger Gwinn will lead at this summer’s conference. Ranger Gwinn’s tour is entitled “Twilight of the Blue and Gray: Gettysburg College and the 1938 Reunion” and will explore the site of the “Great Camp” at Gettysburg College, where 1,485 former Union and Confederate soldiers gathered for the final reunion of surviving Civil War veterans. Discover the stories of the veterans that attended and explore the history behind one of the most mythologized events in Gettysburg’s history.

 

For more information on the 2020 Civil War Institute Summer Conference, or to register, see our website! 

Searching for Stevens

By Kevin Lavery ’16

You haven’t seen much from me yet this semester. For this I apologize. I have been knee-deep in preliminary research for a special project I’m working on for the blog – one that can’t be completed until the weather breaks. I originally meant to learn just enough about the topic of this project to share a brief overview with you all, but, as sometimes happens during the research process, I’ve become a little obsessed with the central figure of my research:  one Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.

To call the great politician polarizing in his own time would be a grave understatement. Frankly, it’s a testament to his willpower and political savvy that he managed to accomplish as much as he did considering how many enemies he made along the way. When I was in high school, we didn’t really learn much about Stevens except that he was one of the Radical Republicans who favored a hardline policy against the South during and after the Civil War. I knew his name, but I had no idea of the man behind it. Continue reading “Searching for Stevens”

The Calm Before the Storm: Pennsylvania College in the Antebellum Period

By Meg Sutter ’16

This post is part of a three-part series on student life at Pennsylvania College immediately before, during, and after the Civil War, exploring how the war impacted life on campus.

Before the War

When the Civil War made its presence known on campus, Pennsylvania College was merely a small Lutheran college, the oldest of its kind in the United States. Thirty-one years had passed since the institution’s founding by Samuel Simon Schmucker in 1832. Dr. Schmucker had advocated for a Classical School, the Gettysburg Academy, which eventually became the Gettysburg Gymnasium after the Gettysburg Theological Seminary was opened in 1826. The Academy/Gymnasium gave preliminary training in classical studies to young men before they advanced their studies in theology. The school prospered so much that Dr. Schmucker sought a charter, which established Pennsylvania College officially in 1832.

Pennsylvania Hall c. 1860s. Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.
Pennsylvania College c. 1860s.
Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.

In 1837 the college relocated from its building at High Street and South Washington—still in existence today—to the college edifice, built in 1837 and now known as Pennsylvania Hall. The edifice sat on six acres and one perch of land and made up the entire college campus until an additional three lots were bought from Thaddeus Stevens in 1849. The school was officially moved from the Gettysburg Academy building to Pennsylvania Hall in October of 1837, followed by the preparatory department for preparing young men for entrance into a college or theological school in 1848. President Krauth also moved and resided with the students in the college edifice until 1850. The building had a dining room, kitchen, study hall, libraries, chapel, society halls including Phrenakosmian and Philomathaean, and of course dormitories, about fifty, for the students. Fireplaces and wood stoves were used to heat all the rooms in the building. Thankfully the building never burned down, and coal stoves would replace these beginning around 1860. Continue reading “The Calm Before the Storm: Pennsylvania College in the Antebellum Period”

The Mystery of Penn Hall

By Ryan Nadeau ’16

In academic terms, I do not consider myself a “Civil Warrior.” I find the Civil War to be very interesting, but unlike many of my fellows here, do not pursue its study as my main focus. In a way, this proves to be a minor difficulty writing for an institute dedicated to Civil War research. Experts – in this case, true Civil Warriors – often seem to have a way of drawing leads and context for events and sources out of thin air, much like a Sherlock or Poirot solving a seemingly unsolvable mystery by the power of sheer deduction and individual mastery. For me, however, I must take the route of a gumshoe, working step by step to solve the puzzle.

Tyson Brothers. "Pennsylvania College (1862)." 1862. Special Collections/Musselman Library, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Tyson Brothers. “Pennsylvania College (1862).” 1862. Special Collections/Musselman Library, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

For writing history is indeed a lot like solving a mystery. Oftentimes, much like the work undertaken for many of the articles on this blog, you begin with a single source of information or a single subject to study—your first clue on the case, existing outside of all contextualization when first viewed. “What can I possibly do with this?” one might ask when reading an old letter that seems largely irrelevant to most studies. “What kind of case am I dealing with?” Continue reading “The Mystery of Penn Hall”

Gettysburg College: A Memorial Landmark

by Tricia Runzel, ’13 As a Gettysburg College student it is impossible to escape the Civil War in my daily life. Surrounded by battlefield, including portions of our own campus, walking on the same ground as the soldiers, and working in buildings …

By Tricia Runzel ’13

As a Gettysburg College student it is impossible to escape the Civil War in my daily life. Surrounded by battlefield, including portions of our own campus, walking on the same ground as the soldiers, and working in buildings that witnessed the tragedy of the Battle of Gettysburg makes the war inescapable. The college’s role in the battle has become famous in campus lore for its use as an observation point and hospital during and after the battle. Still standing Pennsylvania Hall, known as the College Edifice at the time of the battle, once housed the wounded and dying on campus.

Penn_hall
Courtesy of Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.

Continue reading “Gettysburg College: A Memorial Landmark”

The Story of Lewis Payne by Allie Ward

Lewis Payne His story started like that of many young men in the South. Lewis Thornton Powell was the youngest son of nine children born to the Baptist minister and plantation owner George Calder Powell. The Powell family was forced to sell their …

By Allie Ward ’14

Free_photo_lewis_payne_standing_in_an_overcoat_and_hat
Lewis Payne

His story started like that of many young men in the South. Lewis Thornton Powell was the youngest son of nine children born to the Baptist minister and plantation owner George Calder Powell. The Powell family was forced to sell their Alabama plantation due to financial difficulties when Lewis was young and moved to Live Oak, Florida, to start anew on a family farm. When news came that the Confederacy was in need of volunteers, Lewis and his two older brothers joined their ranks on May 30, 1861.  Private Powell and the 2nd Florida Infantry first marched into battle during the siege of Yorktown in April 1862. After this the 2nd was attached to Jubal Early’s Brigade and participated in numerous battles including Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Gains Mill, Second Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Continue reading “The Story of Lewis Payne by Allie Ward”