"We Are All in This War":
The 148th Pennsylvania and
Home Front Dissension in Centre
County during the Civil War
IN OCTOBER 1862, a small filler item in the Central Press, the weekly Republican newspaper of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, reminded the citizens of Centre County that "we are all in this war—those who fight and those who stay at home that their brethren may fight; those who give their hearts to the enemy, and those whose heart-strings are lacerated by every ball that comes from a rebel rifle."1 The notice attempted to appeal to that rural region's sense of unity recently shredded by several months of heated partisan debate about the changing political goals and military policies of the Lincoln administration. That summer, Centre Countians had begun to question sharply the continued efficacy of the conflict; no single community endeavor illustrated so well the contentiousness of those times than the challenge of raising a regiment of local men to answer their part of the July 1862 call for 300,000 more three-year volunteers. Destined always to reflect the strained times in which it was raised, the new 148th Pennsylvania Infantry and its fate in camp and in battle provided a point of intersection and debate for Centre County's Lincoln administration supporters and opponents.
Although historians such as James M. McPherson and Earl J. Hess have made a strong case for the relative importance of political values in convincing an individual soldier to enlist and then stay the course in the ranks, scholars are just beginning to consider seriously the
1Bellefonte Central Press, October 17, 1862.