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Story Ideas: Civil War & Harrisburg - Sites & Scholars

Published: Jun 1, 2016

How to understand the role the city played in America’s Civil War.

HARRISBURG, PA (May 24, 2016) -- Harrisburg had pivotal, yet often untold, role during America’s Civil War. There are several attractions, sites, and local scholars throughout the city that can provide travel writers with the stories that link these often overlooked connections with Pennsylvania’s Capital City & America’s Civil War. Work with the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau to set up some of the suggestions below to find your Civil War Story in our region.


Attractions that relate the story of the city’s role in the war include The National Civil War Museum, Broad Street Market, The State Museum Of Pennsylvania, Fort Hunter, Camp Curtin Memorial at Mitchell United Methodist Church, John Harris & Simon Cameron Mansion, PA National Fire Museum, and Civil War Flag Conservation Center.

Local Historians…

There are also a number of local experts who can relate the stories to travel writers who are interested in telling this story to their readers. Discussions can focus on Lee’s Second Invasion of Pennsylvania and his desire to capture Pennsylvania’s Capital City and its strategic military assets, a look at Harrisburg’s Black Community during the Civil War period, the city’s reaction to the potential southern invasion, and other personal stories.


Tours can be organized for media on the following themes and subjects:

Tour of Historic Civil War Sites in Harrisburg - Guided by Jim Schmick and David Morrison

Civil War Cruise on the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat - Guided by Cooper Wingert

Civil War Dance Demonstrations & Discussions - The Victorian Dance Ensemble Performing Troupe

Civil War Artists and Authors - Historic Harrisburg Association

Harrisburg’s Black Community During the Civil War - Presentions by Cooper Wingert, Calobe Jackson, and/or George Nagle

Camp Curtin - Presentations by Cooper Wingert, David J. Klinepeter, Joe Mieczkowski and Jim Schmick

Lee’s Second Invasion of Pennsylvania - Discussions with Jim Schmick and/or Cooper Wingert

Abolitionist John Brown-PA and Harrisburg Connections - Discussions with Bob O’Connor and Ted Alexander

Walking Tour of Harrisburg Civil War Sites - Guided by David Morrison

Tour of Camp Curtin Memorial-Mitchel United Methodist Church - Rev. John Kurtz, David J. Klinepeter & Calobe Jackson      

Civil War Tour of Historic Harrisburg Cemetery - Tours with Jim Schmick, George Nagle, and/or Bruce Horner

Other Attractions…

State Capitol Building - www.pacapitol.com

501 North 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA

The Capitol Building contains Civil War art, statuary, artifacts, and exhibits. On the plaza is an equestrian statue of Civil War General John Frederick Hartranft, recipient of the Medal of Honor. Soldiers and Sailors Grove behind the Capitol honors the Commonwealth’s Medal of Honor Recipients, including those of the Civil War.

State Museum of PA - www.statemuseumpa.org

300 North Street, Harrisburg, PA

Objects of Valor: Commemorating the Civil War in Pennsylvania on the 2nd floor showcases the museum’s collection of artifacts that reflect the preservation and interpretation of the Commonwealth’s Civil War Experience, featuring the 1870 narrative painting “Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge,” by Peter F. Rothermel, and the original wooden water pump from Camp Curtin. On the 1st floor, the new Pennsylvania Icons exhibit showcases the Keystone State’s influence on American history and includes a state flag that was reportedly displayed on the platform where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Also on the 1st floor, Stories from the Homefront: Pennsylvania in the Civil War – originally a mobile museum exhibit for the Civil War 150th – is an interactive experience for all ages.

John Harris/Simon Cameron Mansion and Museum - www.dauphincountyhistory.org/museum

219 South Front Street, Harrisburg, PA

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the building of the mansion, home of Simon Cameron, Lincoln's first Secretary of War. Cameron was a controversial figure who had proposed arming African-Americans early in the war effort and was forced to resign as a result. He played a major role in establishing Harrisburg as a central location for the movement of Union troops and material. The mansion houses items from Cameron's service in Lincoln's cabinet and as Ambassador to Russia during the Civil War.

Civil War Flag Conservation Center Tour - www.pacivilwarflags.org

Market & North 10th Streets, Harrisburg, PA    

The Commonwealth’s collection of 390 Civil War flags serves as an invaluable window into the nature of Civil War engagements that will help visitors understand the horrendous nature of Civil War combat and the heroism displayed by soldiers on the battlefield.

Pennsylvania National Fire Museum - www.pnfm.org

1820 North 4th Street, Harrisburg, PA

Organized firefighting efforts in America are traced to Ben Franklin and his Union Fire Company in Philadelphia. By the time of the Civil War, firefighting in Pennsylvania involved at least 300 different companies, manned by thousands of active volunteers. Philadelphia alone had 80 companies and enough Philadelphia firemen enlisted to form two regiments: 23rd and 72nd PA Volunteer Infantry, more commonly called “Fire Zouaves.” At that time, the Harrisburg Fire Department had 7 companies. The museum at times displays a special exhibit entitled “Pennsylvania’s Firefighters during the Civil War” or the museum can arrange meetings with several firefighting historians to discuss the roll of the fire service during the Civil War.

Broad Street Market - BroadStreetMarket.org

1233 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA

The Broad Street Market is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest continuously operated market houses in the country. Founded in 1860 and used to feed the civil war troops training at nearby Camp Curtain, this market today serves as the hub of Harrisburg’s Midtown District with 40 vendors offering locally-grown and organic produce, meats, baked goods, and freshly prepared meals. Market managers work to preserve the historic legacy and cultural diversity of the market in addition to serving the community with food-centered educational events. Ask about the renovations since early 2015 and new local farmer program. TripAdvisor users ranked this #14 for “Top Things to do in Harrisburg” (2016).


MEDIA INTERVIEWS                                                                                                 

Mary Smith, President & CEO of the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau is available for media interviews regarding the contents of this news release. Please try to make interview requests at least 12-hours in advance. The bureau will make every effort to accommodate all interview requests. Contact Rick@HersheyHarrisburg.org or cell 717.884.3328.


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The HHRVB is the official non-profit partnership-based Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) leading economic growth for Pennsylvania’s Hershey & Harrisburg Region through destination marketing and tourism development. The organization, accredited by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) since 2010, is committed to actively marketing the tourism assets in Dauphin & Perry County to business and leisure travelers both domestic & international. The bureau also leads regional sales efforts to attract meeting & event organizers, sporting event producers, and group tour leaders. For more information go to VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org or call 877-727-8573. Media can use #HHRVB and #HHRVB4Media when tagging stories and social media posts related to the region.

Author: Rick Dunlap

Public Relations Director
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg
3211 North Front Street, Suite 301 A, Harrisburg, PA 17110