Camp Cadwalader in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the final Union Army service location for the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. It was here, on 9 January 1866, that 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who were still serving with the regiment during the early months of the Reconstruction Era, post-Civil War, were given their final discharge papers (after having been officially mustered out from the regiment at their duty station in Charleston, South Carolina on Christmas Day 1865).
This camp was named after Major-General George Cadwalader (1806-1879), a native of Philadelphia who was appointed by Pennsylvania’s Civil War-era governor, Andrew Gregg Curtin, as Major-General of Pennsylvania Volunteers at the beginning of the American Civil War. Prior to that appointment, Cadwalader had had a long and storied military career. After founding the Washington Grays artillery unit in Philadelphia in 1822, he was appointed Brigadier-General of the Pennsylvania Militia’s 1st Brigade (1st Division) in 1832. Commissioned as a Brigadier-General again on 3 March 1847, he was placed in charge of the 2nd Brigade in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Division during the Mexican-American War, which saw action in the Battles of Contreras, Churubusco, and Chapultepec. Following that latter battle he was brevetted in the field as a major-general in recognition of his valor and leadership.
Throughout the long war, Camp Cadwalader had been a major Union Army hub for recruitment, enrollment, muster-in, muster-out, and honorable discharge of thousands of soldiers who served between 1861 and 1866.
According to Frank H. Taylor, in his book, Philadelphia in the Civil War:
The necessity for a permanent point of assemblage within the city, properly barracked and enclosed, where recruits might be housed and regiments formed, resulted in Camp Cadwalder. This camp was the most important military rendezvous in the city. It consisted of an extensive group of barracks and other buildings enclosed by a high fence and was located upon Islington Lane, east of Ridge Road. It faced the line of Twenty-second Street, the rear being toward Twentieth Street and the south side toward the German Hospital at Twentieth and Norris Streets. At times it was much overcrowded and in the latter period of the war was the subject of many complaints from soldiers and the public…. The camp of the considerable guard force maintained here was located adjoining, the guards being chiefly of the Invalid Corps. Many regiments were organized and mustered in here and a large portion of the returning commands were sent here for muster out.
- “Camp Cadwalader and the German Hospital, 1876” (watercolor by David Johnston Kennedy), in “History of Camp Cadwalader.” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
- Lewis, James M. Toward a Redefinition of Philadelphia’s Historical Perspective: Identification and Analysis of Civil War Sites and Related Programs, p. 48. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, July 2006.
- Taylor, Frank H. Philadelphia in the Civil War: “Camp Cadwalader,” p. 270. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: City of Philadelphia, 1913.