On April 14, 1861, the Stars and Stripes were lowered over Fort Sumter.  The next day, President Abraham Lincoln, with an iron will to “preserve the Union”, issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion.
Thousands of Northern men left cities, farms, and towns to answer the call. The first to arrive in the defenses of Washington, D.C. on April 18 were five companies of militia troops from Pennsylvania. Schuylkill County sent the National Light Artillery and the Washington Artillery. The Logan Guards came from Mifflin County, the Allen Infantry from Lehigh County, and the Ringgold Light Artillery (pictured above drilling as infantry in Washington) from Berks County. Thereafter and forevermore, these volunteers proudly claimed the title of the “First Defenders”.

In honor of the memory of these patriots the First Defenders Civil War Round Table was organized in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, on April 15, 1997.  Now mustering for our 20th Campaign, we claim members from Berks County and several surrounding counties and continue to encourage new enlistees into our company.