With the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg just a couple of weeks away, as I’m working on polishing up the final draft of Northern Temptress, the Civil War historical (set in and around the Battle of Gettysburg) I have under contract with The Wild Rose Press, it’s not surprising that my thoughts these days keep returning to that historic battle. Not the battle fought by soldiers in blue and grey, but the one forged by some incredibly brave people. The civilians of
Some fast facts before we meet our Tuesday Ten heroes:
The town of
When the armies moved out, they left behind 22,000 wounded men.
In all 51,000 men were reported killed or missing.
And let’s not forget the hundreds of horses, mules and livestock killed during the battle.
While John Burns and Jennie Wade (see below) are arguably the most famous civilians of
Elizabeth Thorn. German immigrant who was acting as caretaker of
Salome Myers. Salome “Sally” Myers was a schoolteacher and assistant to the principal in
Matilda “Tillie” Pierce. Tillie was only 15 years old at the time of the battle. Her parents sent her to a neighbor’s farm to wait out the battle. The farm sat behind what we now call “Little Round Top” and Tillie became an eyewitness to some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg. Tillie provided food and water for the wounded and assisted surgeons and nurses caring for the wounded. Twenty six years later she wrote of her experiences during those three days in July, 1863.
Virginia “Jennie” Wade. Jenny, as most people know, was the only civilian killed during the battle. On the third day of the battle, the twenty-year-old was baking bread to feed the Union soldiers when she was struck by a single bullet that traveled through two doors.
John Burns. Much like Jennie Wade’s story, Mr. Burns’ story has been told and retold so many times it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Nearly 70 years old at the time of the battle, John Burns was a veteran of the War of 1812. When the rebels invaded his hometown, the elder patriot took up his trusty musket and joined the Union soldiers in battle. He fired 18 of his 25 rounds of ammunition before he was wounded, and claimed to have killed three rebels.
Elizabeth Butler, AKA “Old Liz”. 53 year old Elizabeth Butler was a washerwoman in
Daniel Skelly. Daniel was a teenager during the battle. While confederate troops camped in the street outside his home on
Daniel also went on to write about his experiences.
Catherine Garlach. Catherine and her 12-year-old son, Will also lived on
Albertus McCreary. First young Albertus was nearly killed by Confederate sharpshooters while peeking out a rooftop door of his home. Then a short while later, while standing on the porch of his family home, wearing a Union kepi given to him by a solider, a Confederate officer tried to take him captive, assuming he was a soldier. It was only over the protest of his father, and after questioning several neighbors as to whether or not the boy actually lived in town, that the officer let him go.
Agnes Barr. While other townspeople hid inside their homes on July 3, avoiding the fetid smell of decaying men and animals, Mrs. Barr left her home on Baltimore Street—darting between buildings to avoid the sharpshooters—many times in order to take food and supplies to the makeshift hospitals and care for wounded soldiers.
Source: When the Smoke Cleared at Gettysburg, George Sheldon; Days of Darkness: The Gettysburg Civilians, William G. Williams; What A Girl Saw and Heard by Tillie Pierce Allman; A Boy’s Experiences During the Battle of Gettysburg by Daniel Skelly.