Monday, March 4, 2013

Days of Uncertainty and Dread by Jerry Bennett

Jerry Bennett's Days of Uncertainty and Dread

. 1786 James Getty bought his farther’s house /tavern + 100 ac. laid out 210 lot town around a major road intersection. Later evolved into a hub of 10 major roads.
. Incorporated in 1800 as Adams County seat by State Legislature
- town growth/development took off
. Economic diversity
- agriculture and manufacturing (carriage/harness/blacksmithing)
- higher education
- retail merchandise
- county seat/courts
. Population diversity
- 2400
- professional: doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers
- merchants: shop owners
- skilled labor: manufacturing
- unskilled labor
. Advanced infrastructure and services since 1800
- 450 major buildings - telegraph service
- 8 churches - Gas company
- 2 banks - Water company
- 3 weekly newspapers - 5 hotels
- 2 institutions of higher learning - RR service
 Period visuals:
P2 (Map of town square)
P3 (Chambersburg St.)
P4 (York St.)
P5 (Baltimore St./Stoever building)
P6 (Carlisle St.)
P7 (Lutheran Seminary)
P8 (Pa. College)
. Geographic location
- Only 40 miles from the Potomac River and the Confederacy
- subjected to numerous alarms that "The Rebels are Coming" All but 1 false
- no prior experience to prepare them to cope with what would engulfed them.

. Early warnings of Confederate Invasion
- June 12th : Gov. Curtin issues a state-wide warning of possible invasion
- June 15th : Gov. Curtin announces the state invaded and calls for vols.
- June 16th : 1st of several alarms that, "Rebels are coming" brought by fugitives
from Chambersburg who told of Rebel atrocities. Anxiety escalated to panic!
Sallie Myers: "The town was in a perfect uproar. The excitement was 
intense for awhile but gradually subsided when the alarm proved false."
. Fannie Buehler saw community denial, as a means of dealing with the stress:
"When the Rebs did not come we lost faith in their coming..we
tried to make ourselves believe that they would never come.
. The town takes action to protect itself
- June 17th a group of 83, mostly college and Seminary students, enlisted in the 26th Pa. Emerg. Vol. Inf. They became Co A and left immediately for Harrisburg They would return in the morning of June 26th.
 -A 2nd call for local volunteers resulted in a cavalry company under a Capt. Bell.
 They began patrolling roads to the west and found Confederate scouts above Cashtown 8 miles from Gettysburg. The town’s anxiety continued to rise.
 - On June 23rd a large group of men from town, armed with axes, headed for
 P9 Cashtown to fell trees across the road in the mountain pass. They met with long distant Rebel fire before reaching Cashtown and quickly retreated.
- This news triggered a new round of panic and action. Merchants and bankers loaded goods & cash onto rail cars and sent them east for safe-keeping.
- The AA community of 200, fearing capture and removal South into slavery, evacuated the town en-masse for remote destinations. Only 30% returned.
.The first Confederate occupation of Gettysburg
 - June 26th early AM the 26th Pa Emerg.Vol. Regiment with Gettysburg’s Co A. arrive and headed out the Chambersburg Pike for Cashtown, looking for Rebs.
 - Early afternoon , The 26th Pa. is routed by Rebels . Bell’s cavalry brings the alarm that "Rebels are coming" from Cashtown. This time it is true!
- Pandemonium! Citizens behind locked doors. Stores closed. Rebels galloping through the streets. Young boys found the event "spectacular and exciting."
- Confederate infantry followed their cavalry into town along Chambesburg St.. At the enemy’s request stores were re-opened. Purchases made with worthless Confederate money.
- No atrocities were committed. Telegraph was cut; several RR cars of 26th Pa. Vols. equipment were burned, along with the RR bridge over Rock Creek.
- Rebs left for York early next morning with the Compiler reporting : "Their deportment generally was civil." Fannie Buehler agreed: "They were civil and well behaved."
. An emotional crisis preceeds the arrival of contending armies
- While relieved with the Rebel’s departure they felt the stress of being cutoff and isolated. Where are our troops? Will the Rebels return? Who will protect us?
 - June 29th; A peak of anxiety and fear gripped the town. Catherine Foster recalled:"The suspense grew intolerable to which the battle proved a relief."
 P11 June 30th , mid morning, Sarah Broadhead saw the arrival of Rebel infantry on Seminary Ridge. The dire news spread rapidly. Then a miracle. Buford’s Cavalry Div. was seen along the Emmitsburg Rd. and turning into S. Wash. St.
- A spontaneous reception ensued! The blue troopers were met by deliriously
happy civilians who now felt they were safe at last. Their army had come.
- Albertus McCreary spoke for the upbeat mental attitude of the town : "Not anyone even dreamed that a great battle would be fought near us."
. A normal day turned upside down
- Town began the day in a normal manner of town activity. Shops opened, etc.
- Citizens living on the west end of town heard faint sounds of gun fire.
 Neighbors came into the streets asking each other, what does his mean? By midmorning the noise of battle escalated and began to reach the rest of town and what remained of normalcy ceased.
 - Soldiers in town confirmed the worst. The two armies had met west of town.
. The wounded and the humanitarian response by Gettysburg’s women.
 - Soon wounded began arriving in the streets seeking medical care. Surgeons were seeking buildings where they could deploy their operating tables. They had no pre and post operation care aides.
-This reality presented itself to Gettysburg’s women, who responded to the mammoth challenge by volunteering to provide their skills already honed by their 19th Century family gender role of, Dr. Mom.
- Mary McAllister and her sister Martha Scott were one of the first of near a hundred who stepped up. Most remained involved for 2 weeks. Some longer.+
- Sitting outside their home in the 1st block of Chambersburg St. They saw a Union soldier mounted on a white horse walking up the street. He was bleeding heavily. Stunned into action Mary and a neighbor got the man off his horse and into the Scott’s parlor where Martha treated his wound.
- Mary then joined another neighbor in opening doors to the Christ Lutheran Church, immediately across the street. The 1st church to serve as a hospital.
- Women not nursing in hospitals or in their homes made bandages. Others cooked meals for wounded and the doctors. 
. Varied behaviors began to manifest themselves among many citizens
- A morbid curiosity gripped many
- As the intensity of battle grew many citizens, mostly men went to their roof 
tops or out towards Seminary Ridge in hopes of seeing the combat. 
-Their curiosity faded rapidly when the noise of shells passed over their heads.
- One citizen took an equally unique course of action. 68 year old John Burns, a
veteran of the War of 1812, took an old musket and headed out to the
McPherson farm to fight the Rebels. He would suffer three wounds. Initially 
picked up the Rebs, retrieved by a neighbor and returned to his home July 3rd.
- Surprisingly few families fled the town, leaving their homes and property 
- Others, living closest to the battlefield moved to more remote parts of town.
 . Violent fighting in the streets of Gettysurg
- A 2 hour lull in he fighting followed the heavy morning combat. During the lull reenforcements arrived on both sides, expanding the battlefield to the north.
- Renewed fighting about 2 pm led to a Confederate victory and triggered a huge retreat of the Union 1st and 11th Corps thru Gettysburg to a reserve position on Cemetery Hill at the southern outskirts of town.
- Just 2 streets, Washington and Baltimore Sts, run unobstructed north to south. creating a dangerous bottleneck for such a massive movement.
- Union Officers rode through the streets ahead of the troops to warn citizens to go to their cellars or risk being killed.
-The 1st and 11th Corps piled into town, almost simultaneously, with Rebels in hot pursuit. A massive foot and vehicle traffic jam resulted amidst brief flare-ups of deadly, close-quarter combat.
-This brought about the worst nightmare for citizens. In the dark of their cellars they heard yells and screams, commands to "shoot that fellow," the reports of musketry and even cannon blasts on Baltimore St..
- In the cellar of his brick home at Washington and W. Middle Sts. Professor Michael Jacobs and his family listened to the ceaseless racket of retreat. His 18 year old son Henry went to a cellar window at pavement level and witnessed a scene in the intersection of an exhausted Union soldier trying to escape, shot in the back just a few feet from his would be captor. Henry, would forever consider this incident a murder, not war.
-The battle in the streets was much like a summer storm; coming on suddenly, with violent intensity, and rapidly passing on.
- Sudden end and ensuing quiet brought citizens out of their cellars to confront a scene of chaos in the streets and yards. Dead and wounded soldiers and horses. The debris of discarded equipment and broken wagons everywhere.
. Union soldiers hidden at great risk by citizens
- Next came the confronting of their captor/occupiers, the Confederates.
Several thousand flooded the streets setting up camps along the pavements. 
- Others began a house to house search for hideaways. Several hundred were found. A small number, perhaps 3-4 dozen, avoided capture and were hidden by brave citizens, risking arrest and perhaps deportation to a southern prison.
- The most famous incident of a soldier being sustained by a citizen was that of Brig. Gen’l. Alexander Schimmelfennig, 3rd Div. Cmdr., 11th Corps. He found refuge at a backyard woodshed at 323 Baltimore St., the home of Henry and P20 Catherine Garlach. When darkness fell Mrs. Garlach went out to feed her pigs from the slop barrels in front of the woodshed. The General revealed his presence to her. Though Rebs would occasionally occupy her backyard, she was able to slip food and water to her "guest" as part of the hog feeding routine until the Confederates retreated.
- Darkness found soldiers and citizens exhausted and in need of sleep. Alice Powers’ perhaps best expressed the thoughts of all citizens in her memoir:
"At night all was quiet but the tramp of guards reminded the town that it’s citizens were prisoners."

.Life under enemy occupation
- Dawn on July 2nd brought unanswered questions and considerable anxiety. As prisoners in their own town they had concerns: Can we leave our houses? What are the restrictions for movement about town? How will the Rebs behave? Will they enter our houses and rob or harm us? 
- Curiosity drove many out onto the streets to find answers. They found that the Confederates had issued no proclamations. Most remained camped on the pavements paying little interest in the civilians.
-The Rebs showed no inclination to enter occupied homes. Those left vacant by citizens who evacuated the town were an open target for ransacking.
-Their interaction with the citizens was mostly concerned with begging food. 
Citizens generally choose to share their food out of fear that there would be retaliation if they did otherwise. Probably a wise decision.
- Contention over food supplies was not the only imposition on the civilians.
Between 3000 and 5000 Rebel troops, at various times, camped within the Borough limits. 
- Hygiene for this mass of soldiers was poor at best. Most had not washed since crossing the Potomac River 2 weeks earlier. Many suffered from dysentery. Their collective body odor was certainly overpowering.
- It did not take long for the combined use of 2400 citizens and several thousand soldiers to jointly overwhelm the town’s privies. Backyard wells, if not polluted, were likewise exhausted.
.Citizen’s mobility in Gettysburg not evenly accessible
- Gettysburg’s topography is such that a prominent ridge dissects the town on an east-west axis. High Street nearly runs along the crest of that ridge, which is locally known as Baltimore Hill. The ridge blocks the south half of town from seeing any activity in the center of town north of Baltimore Hill.
- Citizens living on the north half of town could exit their homes and move around the streets with little danger from direct or aimed musket fire from the area of Cemetery Hill. This safety and freedom of movement was not available to citizens living to the south side of Baltimore Hill.
. Living in a combat zone
 P21 - The area between Baltimore Hill and Cemetery Hill as seen here was an active combat zone during daylight hours. It contained opposing skirmishers separated by distances ranging from from 20 -350 yards.
P22 - The main Union skirmish line was centered at the intersection of Baltimore St. and Emmitsburg Rd.. The Wagon Hotel was a fort housing sharpshooters. 
P23 - Rebel sharpshooters occupied buildings and even a protective barricade that 
was constructed across Baltimore St. at it’s intersection with Breckenridge St.
- Citizens living on the south side of Baltimore Hill had no ability to safely move about outside of their homes during daylight hours. They were restricted to their small, dark and damp cellars. Many with Reb SS upstairs.
- It is no surprise that the only civilian, Jennie Wade, killed during the 3 day battle, was in the southern combat area of the town. She was staying at her sisters brick house on the north face of Cemetery Hill. There is a basement but she was on the 1st floor baking bread when an errant bullet passed through 2 doors and struck her in the back, killing her instantly.
.No one was safe from errant artillery
- No section of town was entirely safe from errant rounds of artillery. Thirteen buildings were hit inadvertently, causing no physical casualties, but severely frightening the residents. Only 2 buildings were purposely shelled. They were harboring Confederate sharpshooters.
 - Catherine Foster’s home at S.Washington and W. High Sts. was hit three times. The first time on July 1st. She had spent the morning as a spectator on her rear, 2nd story porch, only to leave it for her front door to watch the arrival of the 11th Corps. A shell came in and destroyed the porch before she reached the 1st floor.. The house suffered two more hits on July 3rd, with
similar close calls to the occupants.
.A rare night fight spoils sleep for the town
- By 9pm July 2nd the town settled down for the night. Many placing their bedding on the floor below the window sill as protection from an errant bullet. Their precaution served them well. Before they settled in a tremendous noise signaled a large attack launched by the Confederates at Cemetery and Culp’s Hills, 3/4 of a mile from the center of town. No one
got sleep before midnight. 
.A putrid atmosphere
-The 3rd day of July began in the cellar for most of Gettysburg’ citizens. The 1st streaks of dawn brought a renewal of the fight for Culp’s Hill with more noise than actual danger for the town. It was more an infantry fight.
- Citizens emerged from their cellars seeking fresh air and some news as to who was winning this never ending battle. They got neither. No news and putrid air.
-The weather was hot and muggy. This combined with the overflowing privies, the decomposition of dead horses yet lying in the streets, the hundreds of unwashed bodies and unburied piles of severed limbs from the hospitals created a barely tolerable atmosphere.
."Putting forth all their might"
- For the last time in this great battle an overwhelming artillery duel, beginning about 1pm, sent an already anxious citizenry to the safety of their cellars.
P26 - Their emotions ranged from sorrow to fear as captured in Sarah Broadhead’s diary entry: "We knew that with every explosion human beings were hurried through excruciating pain into another world and many more were mangled and lying in torment worse than death. The thought made me very sad. We knew that the Confederates were putting forth all their might and it was a dreadful thought that they might succeed."
- The noise reached a climax of mixed musketry and artillery and then was supplemented by human cheers, Yankee cheers. Pickett’s charge had failed.
. The Confederates were "sullen and gloomy"
- An uneasy quiet settled over the field and town and remained into the night. The civilians noticed a marked change in attitude among the Rebs. As Sarah Broadhead noted:"..they look uneasy and by no means exultant."
-There was another change in the Rebel’s behavior that night. They undertook an aggressive search of many residences looking for hidden Union soldiers cut off in town during the 1st days retreat. This was a cause of alarm for anyone harboring such fugitives as seen by the case of Prof. Stoever.
- Rebs broke into Stoever’s home and found 3 Union soldiers he had been hiding. They left with their new found prisoners only to return with orders to arrest Stoever. The Professor bargained with the detail from his 2nd story window; winning agreement to report himself to the provost marshal the first thing in the morning. The Rebel’s early retreat from town cancelled his commitment.
. "..I knew we were now safe.."
- 2am Confederate’s began the withdrawal from the town. Mary McAllister was awakened by the noise on Chambersburg St.. She quickly woke her sister, Martha Scott, to give the good news. Martha’s response was: "Oh, if it is only true, for I am hardly able to go it." ( Was at the end of her rope.)
- At dawn, Agnes Barr left her house at 220 Baltimore St and frantically signaled the Union pickets to come into town. A small detachment cautiously responded and discovered the Rebels had gone.
- Most of citizens were just awakening, not aware of the Rebel’s departure. The word spread quickly and soon a Union regiment with band playing marched into the town square.
- Even drenching showers could not dampen the people’s elation. Jennie McCreary described the mood. "How happy everyone felt. None but smiling faces were to be seen.."
. Serious dangers still prevailed
 P28 - The Confederates had left the town but not the area. They were massed along Seminary Ridge with skirmishers along Steven’s Run just 3 blocks from the center of town. These skirmishers fired along the east/west streets at any movement.
- Several soldiers were wounded, before barricades were built across the streets. Three civilians were also wounded during the day, none seriously.
- The day was cause for joy and general chaos, punctuated by several false threats that the Confederates were going to shell the town.
".. A dreadfully long day.."
- Sarah Broadhead captured the soul and mind of the town with her July 4th
diary entry: " is ended and all is quiet, and for the first time in a week I shall go to bed feeling safe.."
. A second invasion
- The armies had left by July 8th . Were soon replaced by an overwhelming host of civilian visitors 
P29 . Organizations such as US Sanitary Commission, Christian Commission, and Sisters of Mercy all of whom provided care for the 21,000 wounded left behind by the combined armies
. Relatives of soldiers both wounded and dead
. Curiosity and souvenir seekers.
P30 - They came by the hundreds. Again Sarah Broadheads leaves us some
insight.: "The town is as full as ever of strangers. Twenty are with us tonight in addition to family and two patients, filling every bed and covering the floors."
. debilitating conditions
- Approximately 70 of the town’s public buildings and private homes were being used to nurse wounded. They were gradually relieved of this burden over the next three weeks.
- The overcrowding and heat of summer augmented by the constant presence of the odor of decaying flesh added to the difficulty of a population trying to regain normalcy in their lives. "Everyone went around with a bottle of pennyroyal or peppermint oil.." to help combat the odor.
- It was impossible to get to sleep without shutting all windows to keep out the odor. This was July and no air conditioning. The closed windows barred odor, but retained the stifling heat making sleep difficult.
- Insects feasting on the exposed flesh of poorly dug graves were another source of discomfiture. Sickness was common but no citizen died from exposure.
- By August 1st the town was relieved, with the exception of the Lutheran Seminary, from caring for the wounded.
- Gettysburg was physically scarred, but not broken. The aftermath brought a dramatic and permanent change for the town and it’s citizens.
- In August 1863 an effort among local citizens was initiated to memorialize, and market, Gettysburg as the site of the great victory.
- Led by local lawyer David McConaughy, it was proposed to buy key sites of the Union battle lines to be maintained as the victorious army left them.
- The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was incorporated that December. The GBMA functioned until 1895 when the U.S. Government accepted their holdings as a gift and converted them into a National Military Park.
- The GBMA’s initial agenda was and still is a great success. Battlefield tourist visitation beginning in earnest after the war’s end has grown into the dominating element of the Gettysburg area’s economy. 

- Little did Jennie McCreary realize the lasting prophecy of her words written to her sister about the effect of the battle on the town:"..tis not the same quiet old place as it was." And there is no evidence that it will ever be. Our nation’s enduring fascination with the Gettysburg National Military Park shows no signs of abatement.