Visit Camp Independence on Independence Square

Release Date: September 4, 2012
Contacts: Jane Cowley, e-mail us, 215-597-0060

On Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9, Independence National Historical Park will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Camp Independence with tours, exhibits, living history activities and musical performances. Events will run throughout the day, from 10 a.m. t0 4 p.m., with musical performances at noon and 1:45 p.m. on Saturday. All activities are free, no tickets required. Bring your family and step back in history with the National Park Service.

By the autumn of 1862, the American Civil War had lasted far longer than anyone had expected. As casualties mounted, recruitment levels dropped significantly. In Pennsylvania, the threat of a statewide draft loomed, prompting recruiting officers of the Union Army to redouble their efforts to attract volunteers. In Philadelphia, it was decided that a new recruiting station be opened on Independence Square, directly in the shadow of the nation's birthplace.

On September 8, 1862, Camp Independence opened. Over the course of the next several weeks, more than 20 tents dotted the landscape surrounding Independence Hall. While military bands played patriotic tunes, hundreds of men enlisted in the Union Army, trading the comforts of Philadelphia for the harsh realities of war. Camp Independence closed on November 1, having completed its short-lived, but vital service to the Union war effort.

On September 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Independence Square will host a historic photo display highlighting the role the Square played during the Civil War. Park Rangers, in costume or in uniform, will offer guided tours interpreting the life of a Civil War soldier. Children can earn Junior Ranger badges and Civil War trading cards by completing the park's Civil War to Civil Rights activity sheet.

On Saturday, September 8, the Philadelphia Brigade Band (a Civil War Brass Band) will offer musical performances at 12:00PM and 1:45PM. All of the events listed are free and will take place on the south side of Independence Square, directly behind Independence Hall (outside the security area). No tickets are necessary. In the event of rain, activities will be moved inside the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets.

A unit of the National Park Service, Independence National Historical Park was created by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1948. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Independence NHP covers almost 54 acres in Philadelphia's Old City, and includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Franklin Court, and other historic buildings associated with the founding of the United States. The park is open from 9:00 am daily with the exception of Christmas day. A visit to Independence National Historical Park should start at the Independence Visitor Center, located at 6th and Market Streets. Here, visitors can pick up a park brochure, park map, and the free, timed tickets required for Independence Hall. For more information visit the park's website, or follow us on Twitter @independencenhp.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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