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This research critically examines the issues surrounding the worst civilian disaster of the American Civil War, occurring on September 17, 1862 in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here, seventy-eight teenage girls perished as the Allegheny Arsenal munitions laboratory exploded. Investigations in the disaster’s aftermath, and more recent analysis, have remained largely hesitant in placing chief blame as to its cause. Furthermore, for an event that would seem so significant, its story has inadequately been told. Given that the national spotlight was elsewhere at the time, as the Battle of Antietam was fought on the same day, existing literature has tended to focus almost exclusively on the events unfolding on the battlefield. However, a careful consideration presents the necessary prelude to the arsenal explosions, eyewitness testimony, and the aftermath, to ultimately consider what might have caused the disaster, who should be blamed, and critical background that has been previously overlooked.