ARMSTRONG COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM
CIVIL WAR EXHIBIT ROOM
The new Civil War exhibit room located on the first floor of the McCain House, the home of the Armstrong County Historical Museum, focuses on the County’s involvement in the Civil War. An estimated 3652 men from the County served in the war to preserve the Union, preserve states’ rights, and abolish slavery.
The exhibit endeavors to honor the long-ago soldiers who were the
ancestors of many of the today’s Armstrong County residents. Visitors
can travel back in time to see Civil War artifacts ranging from the
Company G Morning Reports book and a General Orders book
associated with the 78th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment,
a diary carried by a local soldier who survived Andersonville, Georgia
prison while serving in the 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
regiment, antique battlefield maps, first edition regimental
history books, muster rolls from several regiments, documents and
personal items from several soldiers who served in the 14th
Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry and other units, to period musical
and medical instruments.
Included in the exhibit are numerous information boards in which some enumerate the facts and figures of the County’s involvement in the Civil War and others include summaries on regimental/company units such as the 62nd PVI – Company D; 78th PVI; 103rd PVI; 139th – Companies B,C, E and F; and the 155th PVI – Company K. Faces and stories of the soldiers are not forgotten with numerous displayed among the many items in the room.
The exhibit is the home of the original The Wheatfield – Whirlpool of Death painting done by local artist, Larry Smail. Smail captures on canvas the heroic actions of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry against the Confederates on July 2, 1863. That deadly battle occurred in Rose’s wheat field just outside the village of Gettysburg.
On permanent loan from the Kittanning ELKS Lodge No. 203 to the Society is the remaining portion of the militaria items once owned by Dr. Charles Jessop, founder and organizer of the Kittanning General Hospital. Civil War muskets, swords, sabers and various soldier’s accoutrements from the doctor’s collection are on display in the exhibit. Included in the exhibit are items once owned by Colonel William G. Sirwell, commander of the 78th PVI. These items were donated to the Society by Ron Gancas, great-great-grandson of Colonel Sirwell.
Items on display that were obtained from the Armstrong County Court House are the Armstrong County Record Book - Statements of Weekly Relief Payments to Soldier’s Families during the Civil War and soldier Burial Records. The relief records indicate the amount of monies paid out by the County Treasury to aid the soldier’s families that remained at home while the soldier was at war.
The veterans, sons of veterans, and orphans of the Civil War are not excluded from the exhibit. A portrait of Private John F. Croll hangs in display. He was killed in action during the war and the Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 156 in Kittanning was named after him. Information on the Soldiers’ Orphan’s School in Dayton is included in the exhibit. Other items related to the GAR are on display, too. On display is a hat and coat worn by members of a local Camp of the Sons of Veterans of the United States of America. The local camp’s name was the John T. Crawford Camp No. 43.