Although the Soldier’s National Museum wasn’t opened until the 1950s, the building itself has a long and storied history that predates the museum.
During the Battle of Gettysburg it was used by General Oliver Howard as his headquarters. In 1866 it was converted into an orphanage for children who lost parents during the Civil War. Known as “The National Soldier’s Orphan Homestead,” it housed 130 boys and girls at one time, until Rosa Carmichael tarnished its intentions with abuse and corporal punishment. Her terrible actions caused it to be shut down in 1877.
Cliff Arquette, better known as comedy legend “Charley Weaver,” re-opened the site as the “Charley Weaver Museum of the Civil War” in the 1950s, and some of his own hand-carved wooden soldiers are still on display. Boasted as one of the must-see Gettysburg museum venues, this building has a storied past and is now known as the Soldier’s National Museum.
This is Johnny, a wax orphan chained to the wall in a replica of the dark, dank, cellar-dungeon of the old Civil War orphanage. Hear Charley Weaver’s story of “Johnny’s” dungeon punishment during your Gettysburg visit.