Welcome to post #1 of what I hope will be a truly fascinating (not just for the reader) and rewarding study of a topic in history that is generally glossed over in the History books. Should my discovery of resources run dry by post #3, I will have found out why.
So you may wonder "Why this topic?" As a Volunteer and Battlefield Ambassador at Antietam National Battlefield, I am constantly studying every aspect of the people, places, and events of September 1862. Recently, while reading of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first push north of the Potomac River (the Maryland Campaign), I began to wonder, "What role did the thousands of Pennsylvania Emergency Militia play?" In the hopes of defending the Commonwealth from possible enemy invasion, thousands of citizen soldiers rushed to answer the call for troops put forth by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin. What influence, if any, did this mass of armed men have on the strategies of Robert E. Lee, or of his opponent, Gen. George McClellan?
I soon realized, that I didn't know much about this hastily collected military force. I knew they existed, but not for very long, and I knew they manuevered around Hagerstown, MD during the battle, roughly 10 miles to the north. When the Militia was called upon again in 1863 to defend their native soil against an enemy force that was, this time, actually tramping Pennsylvania roads, these brave citizens built defensive forts on the hills over looking the Susquehanna River, in order to protect the capital at Harrisburg. That was, for the most part, all I knew. So, it was settled, I decided to start digging. When I wasn't coming up with very much information, I decided that I needed a bigger shovel. Archives, libraries, and historical societies are now my new homes away from home.
And with that, we come to the blog. What better way to track my research, while at the same time share long buried stories of the past? Like many of "Pennsylvania's Emergency Men" who had no military experience prior to marching off from home to protect their state from invasion, I have no blogging experience. Like many of those brave souls who stood in lines of battle, nervously waiting for an onslaught from a battle hardened foe, I have enlisted for service in the History blogosphere, and am at the mercy of my battle hardened peers. However, the story of the Pennsylvania Emergency Militia is truly fascinating, worth the telling, and the risk.
I sincerely hope, through my future posts, published articles, and beyond, you will enjoy exploring History along with me.
Check back for my first "real" post this weekend, in which I'll introduce you to an Emergency Militiaman.