Militia Encampments in Capitol Park

On September 4, 1862, Pennsylvania's wartime governor, Andrew Gregg Curtin, issued a proclamation ordering the formation of militia companies and regiments to defend the Commonwealth from the Confederate Army advancing into Maryland. A week later, 50,000 men were called to defend Pennsylvania. With thousands arriving daily in Harrisburg, and the established military camps in the area unable to hold them all, the city soon became an armed stronghold with troops everywhere. The capitol grounds were covered with tents and troops. With the Union victory at Antietam, the crisis passed and the militia was allowed to return home.

As the Confederate Army moved north into Pennsylvania in June 1863, the Militia was again called and troops once more camped on the capitol grounds with the capitol building used as a barracks. Hotels were full to overflowing and many private residences were opened to the defenders of Pennsylvania. Union victory at Gettysburg vanquished the Southern Army's invasion. Arms and ammunition that had been issued were returned to the state arsenal and the militiamen sent home. Thereafter, Union troops would continue to pass through Harrisburg until the end of the war two years later.