New Castle News

March 13, 2013

Historical Society presents Civil War exhibit

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Some 150 years ago the nation was at war.

A view of the war between the states, from 1861 to 1865, is being offered for the next three weeks by the Lawrence County Historical Society at 408 N. Jefferson St.

The society is hosting four exhibitions with displays from the Sen. John Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh and Civil War era items provided by local residents.

Hours of the exhibit are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The show is running through March 30.

A $5 admission fee will be charged for anyone 18 or older. The exhibition is free to those under 18.

Three local historians will make presentations at 2 p.m. on Saturdays during the exhibit.

“We moved our furniture out and the exhibits came in,” said Anna Mary Mooney, who staffs the historical society’s museum.

Four major displays all have western Pennsylvania roots.

They include:

•Maj. Martin Delany, the first and highest-ranking African American field officer in the Army. A resident of Pittsburgh, Delany was an abolitionist, physician and journalist, and was considered the father of black nationalism.

He entered Harvard Medical School in 1950, one of the first three black men to enroll, and in his writings he encouraged former slaves to return to Africa. In 1859 he led an emigration commission to West Africa to find sites. He also recruited Negro men to serve in the Union.

•Tillie Pierce, a Gettysburg teenager who tended to dying soldiers on the battlefield around her home, is representative of women at home.

•Brig. Gen. Strong Vincent, called the “Hero of Little Round Top,” was an Erie lawyer who enlisted on his wedding day and died July 7, 1863, from wounds sustained on Little Round Top, Gettysburg.

•Workers of the Allegheny Arsenal. About 150 girls, age 15 to 20, filled paper tubes with gunpowder and inserted miniballs. These cartridges were fired by the soldiers. The young women of the arsenal were paid 50 cents per day, whereas a private in the army was paid 43 cents per day. The arsenal exploded Sept. 17, 1862, killing 78 workers.

•Jack Dog, a mixed-breed bull terrier, was the mascot of the 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry, comprised of volunteer firemen. Present at most major battles of the war, Jack would seek the dead and wounded of his unit after battles. The dog was wounded at Malvern Hill and captured twice, once exchanged for a Confederate soldier at Belle Isle.

Also displayed from the Heinz Center are an Enfield rifle and bayonet, and miniballs and cannon balls used in battle.

The Civil War, which preserved the Union and freed the slaves in the Confederate states, began on April 12, 1861 when Rebel forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. It concluded with the surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

Local Civil War artifacts are on display upstairs at the historical society. They include letters by Col. Daniel Leasure of New Castle, who led the 100th Pennsylvania Infantry. Men of the unit were recruited from western Pennsylvania. Their British ancestry earned them the name the Roundheads.

Also displayed is a timeline of participation of Battery B and the Roundheads, listing their movements and battles from 1861-65, part of the vast Civil War archive of  historian Chuck King of Neshannock Township. His collection also includes clothing and weapons.

Homefront items also are displayed, Mooney noted. They include two dresses of Mary “”Polly” Lint, an ancestor of former historical society president Bob Waddington. One is a formal black silk dress, the other a house dress. Her photo accompanies the display.

There also is a diary of William “Billy” Patterson, founder of First National Bank of Lawrence County. The diary is open to his recollections of the day Abraham Lincoln died, on April 14, 1865.

Household items used 150 years ago and photos of the John Hitch Collection complete the display.