With many major cities throughout the nation preparing for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War on April 12, the Germantown Historical Society is doing what it can to help commemorate the event.
The Historical Society currently has a Civil War exhibition on display that has a uniform, hat and flag as well as various documents from the era, all of which are connected to Germantown.
Both the uniform and hat belonged to Jacob West, a member of Pennsylvania’s 114th regiment. He was a member of a military band known as Collins’s Zouaves.
Also on display are a flag and bed sheet from Cuyler Hospital, a military hospital that cared for up to 600 soldiers at a time. An abandoned town hall at Germantown Avenue and Haines Street now sits on the hospital’s location.
There are also some documents pertaining to William Broadhead, a Germantown resident who was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Civil War veterans, after the war. The Historical Society has his recruitment, discharge and pension papers, along with a photograph, a portrait and even the sword that belonged to Broadhead.
Germantown was highly involved in the war effort, Executive Director Laura Beardsley said. At the time, the neighborhood was mainly a textile and manufacturing area. It had a higher number of recruits than any other ward in the city. Germantown “gave all of itself to the cause,” Beardsley said.
Everything on display has been part of the society’s permanent collection, Beardsley said. Much of it has been sitting in storage. Having these types of exhibitions allow for the “opportunity to revisit parts of the collection that haven’t been on display in many years,” she said.
The exhibition began with a book signing by Eugene Stackhouse, author of “Germantown in the Civil War,” on Feb. 20 and is slated to be on display until at least the end of April, but may last through May, Beardsley said.
The Historical Society is located at 5500 Market Square. For more information, visit https://www.germantownhistory.org/.