History of Camp Curtin
When news of the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter reached Washington on April 14, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers. Governor Andrew Curtin also made a plea to the citizens of Pennsylvania to volunteer to help preserve the Union. Almost immediately, men from throughout the state converged on Harrisburg to offer their services and it became apparent that a military camp would have to be established in the area. Governor Curtin instructed Brigadier General Edward Williams of the state militia to take control of the grounds of the Dauphin County Agricultural Society, located in what was then the northern outskirts of Harrisburg. The camp was between Reels Lane on the north, the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks on the east, Maclay Street on the south and Fifth Street on the west.
It was originally to be called Camp Union but when Major (later Brigadier General) Joseph Knipe officially opened the camp on April 18th, he proclaimed it to be Camp Curtin. Over 300,000 men passed through Camp Curtin during its four years of operation, making it the largest Federal camp during the Civil War.
Harrisburg's location on major railroad lines running east and west, and north and south made it the ideal location for moving men and supplies to the armies in the field. In addition to Pennsylvania regiments, troops from Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Regular Army used Camp Curtin. The camp and surrounding area also saw service as a supply depot, hospital and prisoner of war camp. Harrisburgs strategic importance as a state capital, military camp and railroad center was made evident by the Confederacys attempts to take the city during the Antietam and Gettysburg campaigns.
At the end of the war, Camp Curtin was used as a mustering-out point for thousands of troops on their way home. Camp Curtin was officially closed on November 11, 1865, the same date that became Veterans Day after World War I.
New Wayside Historical Markers
The Camp Curtin Historical Society dedicated five new wayside historical markers in Cumberland County on Saturday, June 13, 2015. The markers were funded by a grant from the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, with additional major donations from the Historical Society of Camp Hill, Capital Area Genealogical Society, and Hampden Township Veterans Recognition Committee. These markers are part of a continuing effort to bring our local Civil War history to life and stimulate tourism.
Board of Directors
P. Eugene Mascioli, II
Thank you for visiting the
Camp Curtin Historical Society
Civil War Round Table
We are dedicated to preserving the memory
of Camp Curtin and the Civil War history
of the Harrisburg area.
Please read our pages to learn more about us.
If you have any questions, please contact us at
Camp Curtin Historical Society
Post Office Box 5601
Harrisburg, PA 17110
The Camp Curtin Historical Society is a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) not for profit charity. All contributions to the Society are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. The Society is registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State as a charitable organization. A copy of the registration and financial information may be obtained by telephoning toll free 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement