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Galusha Pennypacker

Portrait of Galusha Pennypacker. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Capitol Update

Dear Friend –

As we approach Sunday’s event in honor of the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Marshall Square Park in West Chester, I want to share with you the story of one of the group’s most well-known members – Galusha Pennypacker.

Pennypacker, of Valley Forge, began as regimental quartermaster and to this day remains the youngest person to hold the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. (Interestingly, Galusha happened to be the nephew of Samuel Pennypacker of Phoenixville who fought with the Union at Gettysburg and went on to become Pennsylvania’s 23rd Governor – the only one to hail from Chester County).

Despite being severely wounded four times, Galusha was a fixture with the 97th as its service spanned more than 20 major engagements throughout virtually the entire Civil War. From 1861 to 1864, the 97th participated in numerous battles along the southern Atlantic coast as part of the Anaconda plan, which was designed to blockade and capture Southern ports in order to deprive Confederate states’ trade and supplies. It was a less known part of the war but a key element of the Union effort.

 Portrait of Galusha Pennypacker
A memorial to Galusha Pennypacker stands on the northeast side of Logan Square on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

During this time, the 97th’s battle flag was so riddled with musket fire that it was literally torn to shreds. The regiment applied for and received a new battle flag in the fall of 1864 – just in time for its most famous battle, the capture of Fort Fisher.

Fort Fisher stood at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, guarding the harbor of Wilmington, North Carolina, the Confederacy’s last remaining seaport. Preceding the invasion, 56 Union Ships pounded the structure with 40,000 rounds – the largest single naval bombardment in the U.S. history prior to World War II. During the assault, Pennypacker led the second brigade, consisting of the 97th and four other regiments. The battle raged for hours and when the 97th’s color bearer went down, Pennypacker personally hoisted the flag onto the rebel parapet. After planting the flag, Pennypacker was immediately wounded in the hip, an injury that took him out for the rest of the war. For his service, he was made brigadier general. In 1891, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Fort Fisher.

The flag held by Pennypacker at Fort Fisher was pierced by 107 bullets and canister shot and its staff shot in half. Today, the same flag has been preserved by the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission and is on display in Harrisburg.

Honor the 97 Infantry Please join me to remember Pennypacker and the heroes of the 97th Regiment on Sunday, October 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Marshall Square Park.

The day will feature reenactment activities by the current 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and the Sons of the Union Veterans. There will be tables of historical memorabilia and education opportunities, a Civil War encampment, a drilling session and a memorial ceremony with guest speakers.

The event is free and open to the public. It will be held rain or shine.


Andy Dinniman
State Senator - 19th District


Offices of State Senator Andy Dinniman


District Office
One North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: 610.692.2112
Fax: 610.436.1721
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203019
183 Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3019
Phone: 717.787.5709
Fax: 717.787.4384

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