Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!”

A color illustration of a group of USCT soldiers in uniform with a white officer. One soldier holds a US flag and a small child stands with them in uniform playing a drum. Text reads "United States Soldiers at Camp "William Penn" Philadelphia, PA. Rally Round the Flag, boys, Rally once again, Shouting the battle cry of FREEDOM!"

The 10,950 men recruited to the United States Colored Troops in Philadelphia trained at Camp William Penn. (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Library Company of Philadelphia

The 10,950 men recruited to the United States Colored Troops in Philadelphia trained at Camp William Penn, an ad hoc army base in what is now Cheltenham, Montgomery County. The Union League of Philadelphia, founded a year prior to promote the Union cause, raised $100,000 for the establishment of Camp Penn. The land was owned by Union League member Edward M. Davis, son-in-law of prominent Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott. Mott owned the adjoining property, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and often watched the men drill from her porch. After the war, Davis sold parcels of the land to both black and white buyers, and it became one of the first integrated neighborhoods in the United States.

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