The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 2, 2007


Carlisle's contributions to the Civil War on display

For a small town with a population under 500, Carlisle played a substantial role in the Civil War. An exhibit on display at the Gleason Public Library is both poignant and factual, and highlights aspects of the town's involvement in the war.

Janet Hentschel, collections manager of the Carlisle Historical Society, has assembled items from the Society's Civil War collection. Among the artifacts found at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 are a twelve-pound solid shot fired from a cannon at Railroad Cut and a U.S. cartridge box found at Peach Orchard. The Gettysburg collection was donated to the Historical Society by Washington Irving Heald, son of Benjamin Franklin Heald. The younger Heald personally collected relics on the Gettysburg Battlefield, and today the collection is thought to be one of the finest in the country.

55 Carlisleans fought in the Civil War

Among the personal items belonging to George Varnum Monroe was this wood fragment carved with his initials and his wife's name. On the reverse, Moore had carved a cross. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

Fifty-five Carlisleans fought in the Civil War — most joined the Infantry while others joined the U.S. Cavalry and the Sharp Shooters. Townspeople raised money to "fill the quota assigned to Carlisle under the call of the President of the U.S.A. 1864." The funds supported the soldiers and their families, particularly those families whose sons or fathers were casualties of the war. Five Carlisle men were killed in battle, and eight died from wounds or disease. The youngest fatality was William Blood who died at Bull Run at age 16 — he had given his age at enlistment as 18.

John N. Blood, who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg, lost a leg from a gunshot wound. He returned to Carlisle, lived in an apartment in the Wheat Tavern in the center, and was a familiar sight in town, walking around with a wooden leg that was later replaced by an iron leg.

A soldier's possessions

George Varnum Monroe of Carlisle was a member of Company G., 47th Regiment, which fought in skirmishes in Louisiana. He died of illness on August 9, 1863, in Carrollton, Louisiana. His wife, Anna Maria Hill, did not learn of his death and burial until two weeks later. Five years later, she married William Stearns Lee, also of Carlisle.

Virginia Wilkie Mills, the great-granddaughter of Anna Maria Hill, donated personal items that belonged to Monroe to the Carlisle Historical Society. Among them are his wife's tintype and a lock of her hair, his sewing kit, a wood fragment carved with his initials and his wife's name, a leather pouch, a knife, and one of five devotional booklets that accompanied Monroe into battle.

In 1925, only two Civil War veterans participated in Carlisle's Memorial Day observance — Daniel Webster Robbins and Edward Everett Lapham. Sergeant Robbins enlisted in 1861 (at the age of 16) and served for 2 1/2 years. He was discharged and re-enlisted until he was mustered out at the end of the war in 1865. Corporal Lapham served from 1861 to 1864.

The exhibit can be seen at the library through February.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito