Hopewell Villagers Await Invasion

Civil War combat never reached Berks County, thanks to the Union victories that stopped Confederate invasions at Antietam and Gettysburg. The civilian population of Hopewell Village never faced the horror of battle that terrorized the citizens of Gettysburg. Nevertheless, the strain of a lengthy war must have been felt deeply in the village. Local men - husbands, brothers, and sons went off to face the dangers of the battlefields, while shortages of necessary or desirable goods and supplies, and an unknown future took a toll on the women and children left at home.

In the summer of 1863, the strain increased dramatically when General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia invaded Pennsylvania. Additional local men rushed to volunteer for military service with the 42nd Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Regiment, and everyone undoubtedly waited frantically for news of the invasion. If Lee’s Army had won at Gettysburg, and continued its march east toward Philadelphia, Hopewell and its rich war industry rested right in its path.