Cannonball

Part of the USA Today Network

Pennsylvania State Archives a treasure trove of Civil War material

Civil War soldiers from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (State Archives, Harrisburg, MG-218 – General Photograph Collection)

Often during the past few winters I have spent many relaxing hours perusing the collections of the U.S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pa. and the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. Both are wonderful resources for the Civil War writer, researcher, or general history buff.
The State Archives in particular has been a favorite destination of mine. I spent hours there reading through every one of the 800+ damage claims filed by residents of York County (and I have started on those claims from Cumberland County, which actually include dozens of York Countians who moved after the war or filed their depositions in the adjoining Cumberland County).
I then used my extensive notes from these microfilmed records to create an on-line, fully searchable database for the York County Heritage Trust’s website. Type in your ancestor’s surname, and up will come the basic information on what the Confederates (or Yankees) took from them, its value, and the date and most likely unit which took their property or horses. You can also search regions for all losses in an area (for example, type in Hanover, or Dover, or Dillsburg). The database will return those listings with the keywords you selected. Or run a search for specific Confederate units (French’s cavalry or Fitzhugh Lee, for example).
Here is an excellent listing of the available materials for Civil War research held in the state’s collection. These include letters, diaries, military documents, photographs, and all sorts of primary sources / references of interest. Be sure to click on Douglas Royer’s “Guide to Civil War Records,” a 2001 compilation of the archives’ holdings.
Why not spend a snowy and cold Saturday looking through this collection?