February 10, 2015 |
Tillman Valentine didn't know the hard times he'd face when he enlisted in the Army that morning of June 30, 1863. He was a black man in a country at war with itself over slavery and state's rights. Emotions were running high as Confederate forces invaded Pennsylvania, where a great battle - the bloodiest of the Civil War - was about to be fought at Gettysburg. Valentine bade an affectionate goodbye to his pregnant wife, Annie, and their three children in West Chester and headed to Camp William Penn, the first and largest federal training ground for black soldiers, just north of Philadelphia.
October 2, 2013
Honor proud legacy Camp William Penn in historic La Mott, Cheltenham Township, was the first and largest federal training camp for the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War ("African Americans' historic regiments," Sept. 19). All that remains is the original gate, but the memory was alive and well last month at the 150th anniversary commemoration, with descendants of troops and reenactors keeping history alive. The camp's museum, mothballed for years due to lack of funds, was filled with amazing artifacts for the occasion, and had a room paying homage to local heroine Lucretia Mott, abolitionist and suffragette, for whom the community is named.
June 20, 2013 |
Sixth in an occasional series on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1 to 3. A thick, misty fog embraced the blue columns of African American soldiers "like a mantle of death" as they marched through pre-dawn darkness toward the enemy earthworks outside Richmond, Va. Spotted by Confederate pickets, members of the Sixth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) quickly ran into a torrent of musket and artillery fire that cut through their ranks and shredded the national and regimental colors, snapping the flagpoles in two. That chaotic moment - when Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Hawkins, First Sgt. Alexander Kelly, and Lt. Nathan Edgerton rushed in to rescue the colors - has been captured for the Union League of Philadelphia in a newly commissioned oil painting by the renowned Civil War artist Don Troiani.
August 8, 2010 |
The nation's sesquicentennial observances of the Civil War, starting next year, will be a good time to separate myth from fact and appreciate how people from our region shaped the conflict. Contrary to one popular belief, the war was not started to end slavery. It was fought to stop the spread of slavery to new states in the West. Only in late 1862 was the larger issue broached. President Abraham Lincoln had intentions to free slaves in states not under Union control but proper timing of the Emancipation Proclamation was essential.
July 7, 2008 |
THE FIRST week of July was typically the start of Camp William Penn. But after two decades of trying to close the city-funded summer camp in the Poconos, the politicians mustered the will to make it happen. The timing of the camp's closing is ironic. In March, the National Parks and Recreation Association concluded that one of most pressing issues affecting young people in the U.S. is the challenge of getting them outdoors to play - they're simply losing touch with the natural world.
June 18, 2008
THE NEWS that Camp William Penn is closing really upset me because I know that the children of the "inner city," as the newspaper put it, will never get to experience what I did as a 9-year-old girl. I'm now 52. We grew up poor and never went places or did things that other kids took for granted. A woman on our block (who may have been a committee person) sent out fliers about the city camp. My parents couldn't afford to send me, so this woman put up the money. Her name was Nellie Plegues.
June 2, 2008
WHEN WE WERE KIDS, we loved our summer stays at overnight camps. To this day, the smell of wet vegetation after a summer rain takes us back to those days when we slept outside in tents, hiked in the woods and swam in the lake. So the news that Camp William Penn, the city-run, taxpayer-subsidized camp for underprivileged youth has closed after 56 years is a sad commentary on several fronts. City officials say the camp in the Poconos is run down, and enrollment had declined over the years.
March 20, 2005 |
Soldiers in Union garb fired three rounds over the resting place of Perry Triplett yesterday as a drummer boy tapped slowly and solemnly. "He would have liked that," said Joseph Tappe, 82, who worked for many years with Triplett on projects that would bring recognition to LaMott, a section of Cheltenham Township where they lived and where many African American soldiers were trained during the Civil War. Yesterday, at Calvary Presbyterian Church...
March 19, 2005 |
Perry Triplett, 77, of LaMott in Cheltenham Township, who for 35 years sought recognition of his hometown's contribution to the Civil War, died of acute respiratory distress syndrome Tuesday at Abington Memorial Hospital. Mr. Triplett was founder and director of Citizens for the Restoration of Historic LaMott. The organization had collected artifacts and was raising money to renovate a building that housed the United States Colored Troops Museum in LaMott. The museum is on the site of Camp William Penn, the first and largest federal facility to train black recruits during the Civil War. In 1969, Mr. Triplett and his uncle, Frank, founded the citizens group to preserve the heritage of the community.
February 3, 2002 |
In the Civil War papers of his great-grandfather William Henry Beck, Benjamin Franklin Beck sees a little of himself. Both men fought in the controversial military struggles of their time, the Civil War and Vietnam. Both men sustained disabling injuries that affected their lives after leaving the service. Now in honor of his long-deceased relative, Benjamin Beck dons the blue wool uniform and slouchy "bummer" cap of the Third Regiment Infantry of the U.S. Colored Troops and teaches others about African American involvement in the Civil War, an often-overlooked facet of history.