26 May



“62nd Men” by Amy Loughrey Gray for the ACHMGS

On Saturday & Sunday, May 22 – 23, 2021, the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Living History Family [62ND PVI LHF] took to the field for the first time in many months…and for a good cause–to mark the re-opening of the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania…being the county seat of Armstrong County, this made the event title an easy one, “From Armstrong to Appomattox”, as we highlighted the men from the county who served in the American Civil War…for some, that meant a journey that took them to places like Antietam, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Nashville, and Stones River, to name a few…for others, places like Andersonville, Salisbury and Libby were horrifying places known as Confederate Prisons…for a few, like those in the 139th PVI,155th PVI and the 2nd PA Cavalry, the journey would take them to the tiny village of Appomattox Court House, VA, where General Grant met with General Lee to accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia…these men would line the road on April 12th, 1865, to receive the “stacking of arms” as the Confederate Army turned in their weapons, accoutrements and flags, under the direction of General Joshua L. Chamberlain…

On Saturday, we were very pleased to welcome Mr. Michael Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA…Mike spent the day with us, touring our museum, greeting visitors, and speaking to the guests about the importance of museums, large and small, in preserving and maintaining our history…Mike also gave a detailed description of the roster of Armstrong County men who served, and the regiments they served in, including a list of engagements for each unit…

Michael Kraus [photo courtesy of Larry A. Smail]

To support his presentation, Michael brought a number of priceless artifacts with him from the collection at Memorial Hall relative to the Armstrong County soldiers and regiments…this included descriptive roster books for the 62nd and 78th regiments, weapons such as swords and pistols carried by men from the county, and once again, the “Sweitzer’s Brigade Flag”, which flew in the “Wheatfield” at Gettysburg, and on the battlefield at Spottsylvania, VA…

Sweitzer Brigade Flag [photo by Larry A. Smail]

The men of the 62nd PA fought under this flag in those battles, and on July 2nd, 1863, two Armstrong County men, John Long and John Walker of Company D, gave their lives in the fighting at Gettysburg…

Throughout the weekend, the ladies and children of our living history family brought to life the “homefront” experiences for the visitors and guests…this included many aspects of life, from schooling, games, daily chores and duties, while missing loved ones who were off to war…

Games photo by Marilyn Cornish
62nd Ladies by Amy Loughrey Gray for the ACHMGS

On Sunday, we welcomed long-time friends, historians and authors Arthur Fox and John Haltigan…Art and John have collaborated on a number of Civil War books, including “Those Who Fought”, focusing mainly on the Allegheny County men who served…this book also features a chapter on the 62nd Regiment, and includes an image of a painting “The Wheatfield: Whirlpool of Death”, by Larry A. Smail…this painting depicts the moments when Col. Jacob B. Sweitzer and the men of the 62nd are nearly surrounded in Rose’s field of wheat in Gettysburg…more about the painting to come!

“The Wheatfield: Whirlppol of Death” original painting displayed in the Civil War Room in the Armstrong County Historical Museum [photo by Larry A. Smail]

For the last few years, Art and John, along with contributions by Jeane Stetson and Dianne Rosell, have been pouring their hearts and souls into a new work, “At the Center of the Storm: The 139th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in the Civil War”…this book is a comprehensive work, the “regimental history” of this notable regiment…it will tell the story of the regiment, and its service, from burial detail after Second Bull Run, to the surrender at Appomattox…the book will also tell the individual stories or “vignettes”…during their presentation on Sunday, Art and John, both Veterans in their own right, shared some of these stories, including that of Color Sergeant [flag-bearer] David W. Young of Co. E, from Armstrong County, who was designated by General Wright and General Grant as one of three soldiers most conspicuous for gallantry in the final assault at Petersburg…he would receive an autographed letter from the general warmly praising his heroism…

Another notable Veteran of the 139th, Sylvester Hildebrand was the last surviving member of the regiment from our county, and the last member of the G.A. R. Post 89 in Apollo, PA…he died in 1935, at the age of 88…

The book will also feature 15 chapters, 240 photos 40 battlefield maps, and 600 footnotes…at this time, the final phases of indexing are underway, before the final product will be published by Mechling Publishing in late July or August 2021…

Once the book is released to the public, we will look forward to hosting Art & John for a book signing event!

John Haltigan [L] and Arthur Fox [R], seated at a table giving a presentation on their upcoming book “At the Center of the Storm”, a regimental history of the 139th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. [photo by Slim Bowser]

And with the conclusion of Art and John’s presentation, the visitors were free to explore the encampment, grounds, and the beautiful McKain House, which now serves as the Armstrong County Historical Museum, as well as the Genealogical Library in the Carriage House next to the museum…the location is:


Hours of operation are THURSDAYS, 1-3 PM, AND SUNDAYS, 1-3 PM



Mary Koma was also on hand to sign copies of her book during our Saturday hours…

And so, after a year of quarantines, closures, social distancing, and staying apart, we were very pleased to welcome guests and visitors to the museum, and share the rich and timeless history of our nation, our county, our community, and our ancestors, including those in the 62nd PVI…

Thank you to all who took time to visit with us, and to our wonderful guests for their presentations…

May God Bless!

1 Comment

Posted by on May 26, 2021 in Uncategorized



  1. Chris Mangold

    May 26, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Wish I could have been there.



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