Pennypacker Mills, a historic estate in rural Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, annually hosts a Civil War Reunion, complete with speakers, sutlers, living history, musicians and bands, children’s activities, period church services, food vendors, tours of the historic 18th century manor house, and reenactors presenting sham battles.
With the theme of this year’s exhibits at the mansion being the role of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, I was invited to be a guest speaker (I cover the militia in my award-finalist book Flames Beyond Gettysburg).
Samuel W. Pennypacker, the governor of Pennsylvania in the early 1900s, was a 20-year-old private in the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia which fought Jubal Early’s Confederates on June 26, 1863, near Gettysburg. Artifacts of his service, including his forage cap, a knapsack, his spoon, and other personal items are on display in the upstairs of the Pennypacker house. There are also displays and photographs related to the militia’s fight at Hanover Junction in York County, as well as the surrender of York and a little girl giving John Gordon a bouquet of roses with a hidden note describing the military defenses of the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville.
Here are some photos from today’s event, which continues on Sunday, June 3.
George Washington used the Pennypacker house as his personal headquarters before and after the Battle of Germantown during the American Revolution. A handful of his soldiers are buried on the estate. Several generations later, Governor Samuel Pennypacker, the former Civil War soldier, purchased his family’s ancestral home and lived there until his death.
Admission to the Pennypacker Museum, the Civil War event, and the battle reenactment is free. The events run on June 3 mid-morning until 4:00 p.m. Parking is also free!
Perhaps 100 or so living historians and reenactors were present at Pennypacker Mills (a Montgomery County park). They included singer Matt Dodd as well as the 69th Pennsylvania Band.
Pennypacker Mills is located at 5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. It took me less than 2 hours to make the drive there on Saturday morning.
As a soldier in the 26th Emergency Militia, Samuel Pennypacker briefly visited York County twice — first on June 25, 1863, as the train carrying the regiment steamed into Hanover Junction and then Hanover. The second time came after the Skirmish of Witmer Farm when the shattered regiment marched to Dillsburg en route to Harrisburg. Pennypacker and his comrades formed into a line of battle to repel Confederate cavalry which approached from Cumberland County.
I quoted Sam Pennypacker several times in Flames Beyond Gettysburg. His 1863 diary of the Gettysburg Campaign was among the items on display in his house.
Some of the crowds awaiting the start of Saturday’s sham battle. The tent to the left of the photo are the representatives from historic Fort Delaware, a place I plan to visit later this summer if possible.
Two companies of Confederate reenactors head for the battlefield. They would meet two companies of Union reenactors. Three artillery pieces added to the noise, which reverberated from the lush hillsides surrounding the park.
Here is a link to the website for the Civil War reunion.
Here is a link to the website for Pennypacker Mills County Park.