Visit the National Civil War Museum

Visit the National Civil War Museum Harrisburg PA

The National Civil War Museum is the only museum in the United States portraying the complete story of the American Civil War.  The museum offers a balanced of displays without bias to the Union or the Confederate causes.

National Civil War MuseumLocated on a hill in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the National Civil War Museum offers an awesome view of the city and the surrounding mountains.

The entrance includes a sculpture created by Terry Jones at the entrance of the museum entitled “Moment of Mercy” depicts the selfless act of courage by 19-year-old Sergeant Richard Kirkland, a scene that could be found many times throughout the war.

The self-guided tour begins on the second floor of the museum.  The American struggle is portrayed as a time line, focusing on the four years of the war.  The Pre-War period includes a collection of artifacts reflecting the evolution of American Slavery.

The Creation of the Confederacy and the first shots fired upon Fort Sumter signal the beginning of the American Civil War.  The Making of the Confederate and Union Armies features uniforms, weapons and other items used by the Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry units as well as the Union Navy.

Pictures are on display of the military camp established in Harrisburg by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtain.  Camp Curtain became one of the North’s most important training centers for volunteers and new recruits.

The camp also served as a supply depot and a center for the sick and wounded.  Governor Curtain is often referred to as “the greatest of the Northern war governors”.  During his term in office, Pennsylvania contributed 427,000 soldiers serving in the war.

Some of the battles depicted are: Bull Run, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Antietam and Gettysburg.  More than 3 million men served in the military during the four years of war; 700,000 died and nearly 400,000 were wounded.

War related deaths from 1861-1865 were greater than the total number of American deaths in all American wars.  Gettysburg was the single bloodiest battle ever in American history.  Out of 170,000 men, there were over 50,000 casualties.

Disease killed more soldiers than battlefield wounds, claiming over 96,000 lives. One in sixty-five was killed in battle – One in thirteen died of disease.  Cleanliness and proper sanitation helped reduce sickness.

Various artifacts of personal hygiene can be seen including; soaps, toothpaste, shaving kits and mirrors.  A field hospital is also displayed featuring a surgery.

Surgical instruments, syringes, crutches and artificial limbs are showcased; but the most impressive item on display has to be the hospital wagon – believed to be the last surviving ambulance from the civil war era!

There is also many displays that include Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and his role as a leader of the Union forces during the Civil War, future 18th President of the United States.

The tour concludes with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse and the President Abraham Lincoln assassination at Ford’s Theater in Washington.

On display are newspapers, a picture of the funeral procession, a sash from the funeral train and even a piece of the dress Mary Todd Lincoln was wearing that fateful night.  Less than a year later, slavery was abolished by approval of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln Painting - The National Civil War MuseumAbraham Lincoln was President of the United States during the Civil War from 1860-1865.

Harrisburg’s National Civil War Museum has joined the Smithsonian Institution’s network of affiliate organizations, which will allow the museum greater access to the collections and educational resources of the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Affiliations, established in 1996, is a national outreach program that develops long-term partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to make the Smithsonian’s resources more widely available.

The program allows for long-term loans of artifacts and for alternative means of exhibiting the Smithsonian’s vast collections.


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The National Civil War Museum

One Lincoln Circle
Harrisburg, PA 17103
(717) 260-1861