Harrisburg group battles to save Civil War history - abc27 WHTM

Harrisburg group battles to save Civil War history

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At the corner of North 6th and Woodbine streets in Harrisburg stands a statue of Andrew Curtin, the former Pennsylvania governor known for his allegiance to President Abraham Lincoln. He established the Civil War camp that bore his name and sent troops to help defend the nation's capitol.

The 91-year-old memorial is in good shape now, but it wasn't always like that.

"There was graffiti all over it and paint all over it," historian Jim Schmick said. "Nowhere on it did it say it was Governor Curtin."

Schmick was determined to make things right and contacted a lawmaker, who at first said there was nothing he could do about the deteriorating memorial - until Schmick said this:

"I guess I am going to have to let them know that the state doesn't care about a monument that was put here honoring men that kept our country together and helped end slavery," he said.

The money started rolling in.

"All of a sudden $15,000 appeared, and they had four people on it, and they restored the monument," Schmick said.

In November 1990, the memorial was restored and dedicated. Schmick is the founder of the Camp Curtin Historical Society, an organization with the goal of making sure no one forgets what happened on both the East and West shores during the Civil War.

Many artifacts and documents during that time just weren't saved.

"I think it's the Gettysburg 'wow' factor," Schmick said. "It was so big. You have 90,000 men against 70,000 men, 50,000 horses, 22,000 left wounded. It was so huge that I think a lot of people just thought, 'Oh, they are not going to care much about what happened around here.' "

The Camp Curtin Historical Society is in the process of placing markers at historical sites like the Fort Couch Memorial in Lemoyne, so tourists can learn about the landmarks and their role in the Civil War.

All of the sites will be included in a brochure that will be placed at sites in Gettysburg so tourists know that there's more history just a short drive away.

Not only will their efforts help to boost the economy, but the brochures will serve as a learning tool for people who live in the area. Many of them never knew that there wasn't supposed to be a Battle of Gettysburg, but a Battle of Harrisburg instead.

The historical society will dedicate their first site marker at the Fort Couch Memorial, at 8th Street and Indiana Avenue in Lemoyne, on Saturday, June 30 at 3 p.m.


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