Video: Students left college to enlist and help defend Gettysburg

June 12, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — "We are hard pushed, but intend to live through this storm of war." Evan Pugh wrote these words in a letter to Penn State Trustee Hugh McAllister regarding the exodus of several students who enlisted in armies during the Civil War. Pugh, a Quaker and president of the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania — now called Penn State — was a staunch believer in the power of education and saw it as a mistake for anyone to leave school before completing his degree. Despite his impassioned pleas, students withdrew and signed up for militias that were raised to defend a small town to the south of the state's capital: Gettysburg.

Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor of American History at Penn State talks about Penn State students' role in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Video: Students left college to enlist and help defend Gettysburg

Evan Pugh, a Quaker and founding president of Penn State, was opposed to students leaving college to fight in the Civil War. Nevertheless, 31 would join Union forces and at least two joined Confederate armies. Carol Reardon, George Winfree professor of history at Penn State, shares how the college answered the emergency call for an armed militia to defend the Commonwealth from advancing Confederate troops led by Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Additional video installments with Penn State faculty and Civil War experts William Blair and Carol Reardon will be shared weekly leading up to the battle's sesquicentennial, July 1-3, 2013, and will be archived at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 24, 2015