July 1, 1863: At the Jacob Weikert Farm

jacob weikert farm circa

The Jacob Weikert farm, photo around 1890. Library of Congress.

Tillie, Hettie, Sadie, and Mollie didn’t get to rest for long before they found themselves not in such a safe place after all. Taneytown Road was soon filled with Union artillery units rushing north and west across the fields to join their embattled brothers. Tillie watched and remembered:

. . . It was indeed a thrilling sight. How the men impelled their horses! How the officers urged the men as they flew past toward the sound of the battle! . . . Shouting, lashing the horses, cheering the men, they all rush madly on.

 

Suddenly we behold an explosion; it is that of a caisson. We see a man thrown high in the air and come down in a wheat field close by. He is picked up and carried into the house. . . .

 

I was not long in learning what I could do. Obtaining a bucket, I hastened to the spring, and there, with others, carried water to the moving column until the spring was empty. We then went to the pump standing on the south side of the house, and supplied water from it. Thus we continued giving water to our tired soldiers until night came on, when we sought rest indoors. . . .

weikert farm

The barn at the Jacob Weikert farm, as it appears today.

It was toward the close of the afternoon of this day that some of the wounded from the field of battle began to arrive where I was staying. They reported hard fighting, many wounded and killed, and were afraid our troops would be defeated and perhaps routed. . . .

Some limping, some with their heads and arms in bandages, some crawling, others carried on stretchers or brought in ambulances. . . . Before night the barn was filled with the shattered and dying heroes of the day’s struggle. (AT GETTYSBURG, pp. 41–44)

 

 

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July 1, 1863 – Afternoon: Tillie’s Trip

After the events of the morning, Tillie returned for lunch (“dinner” to her), but was too excited to eat very much. If she had known what the afternoon held in store for her, she might have chosen to eat and drink more before her adventure began. Again, here are her own words:

hettie

Hettie Shriver (Schriver)

. . . Mrs. Schriver [Tillie’s spelling differs from modern “Shriver” spelling], called at the house and said she would leave the town and go to her father’s (Jacob Weikert), who lived on the Taneytown road at the eastern slope of the Round Top.

 

Mr. Schriver, her husband, was then serving in the Union army, so that under all the circumstances at this time surrounding her, Mrs. Schriver did not feel safe in the house.

 

sadie and mollie

Sadie and Mollie

As the battle had commenced and was still progressing at the west of the town, and was not very far off, she thought it safer for herself and two children to go to her parents, who lived about three miles to the south. She requested that I be permitted to accompany her, and as it was regarded a safer place for me than to remain in town, my parents readily consented that I should go. . . .

 

About one o’clock we started on foot; the battle still going on. We proceeded out Baltimore Street and centered the Evergreen Cemetery. This was our easiest and most direct route, as it would bring us to the Taneytown road a little further on.

 

As we were passing along the Cemetery hill, our men were already planting cannon.

 

They told us to hurry as fast as possible; that we were in great danger of being shot by the Rebels, whom they expected would shell toward us at any moment. We fairly ran to get out of this new danger.

 

fleeing from danger

“Fleeing from Danger” from Tillie’s book, AT GETTYSBURG. Click on it to see a larger version.

As I looked toward the Seminary Ridge I could see and hear the confusion of the battle. Troops moving hither and thither; the smoke of the conflict arising from the fields; shells bursting in the air, together with the din [noise], rising and falling in mighty undulations [waves]. These things, beheld for the first time, filled my soul with the greatest apprehensions. . . .

 

We continued on our way, and had gotten to a little one and a half story house, standing on the west side of the road, when, on account of the muddy condition of the road, we were compelled to stop. This place on the following day became General Meade’s headquarters.

 

. . . a soldier came out and kindly told us he would try to get some way to help us further on, as it was very dangerous to remain there.

It began to look as though we were getting into new dangers at every step, instead of getting away from them.

 

. . . after waiting a short time, this same soldier came to us saying:

“Now I have a chance for you. There is a wagon coming down the road and I will try to get them to make room for you.”

The wagon was already quite full, but the soldier insisted and prevailed. We fully appreciated his kindness . . . and we thanked him very much.

 

At last we reached Mr. Weikert’s and were gladly welcomed to their home. (AT GETTYSBURG, pp. 35–41)

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July 1, 1863: The Morning in Tillie’s Words

fall of reynoldsThe bloodiest battle on American soil began on the morning of July 1, 1863. Tillie was at home with her father, mother, and older sister. Her two older brothers were away, already a part of the Union army. Here are some of Tillie’s words, again from her own account of the events:

We awoke early. It was impossible to become drowsy with the events of the previous day uppermost in our minds. We were prompt enough at breakfast that morning. . . .

 

We had no sooner finished our breakfast when it was announced that troops were coming. We hastened up what we called the side street, (Breckenridge), and on reaching Washington Street, again saw some of our army passing.

 

First came a long line of cavalry, then wagon after wagon passed by for quite awhile. Again we sang patriotic songs as they moved along. Some of these wagons were filled with stretchers and other articles; in others we noticed soldiers reclining, who were doubtless in some way disabled.

 

It was between nine and ten o’clock when we first noticed firing in the direction of Seminary Ridge. At first the sound was faint, then it grew louder. Soon the booming of cannon was heard, then great clouds of smoke were seen rising beyond the ridge. The sound became louder, and was now incessant. The troops passing us moved faster, the men had now become excited and urged on their horses. The battle was waging. This was my first terrible experience. (At Gettysburg, pp. 33-34)

(NOTE: General John Reynolds was shot and killed that morning. See image above, from Library of Congress.)

 

 

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Gettysburg’s Historic Week

Events are underway at Gettysburg to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle on American soil. All weekend and into next week, reenactors will be providing modern viewers an experience they won’t soon forget. In the meantime, the Civil War Trust has been busy creating online experiences. As someone who won’t get to attend the actual event, I’m happy to be able to watch via my computer screen.

gettysburg-animated-map-preloadFirst, let me highly recommend the animated, narrated battle map video. Because the battle covered more than 20 square miles, it’s often difficult to envision just where the action was taking place. This map makes it so easy to view troop movement and the battle lines. You MUST see this amazing map at
http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/maps/gettysburg-animated-map/ or by clicking on the image above.

gettysburg-battle-app-limitedThe Civil War Trust has also created The Gettysburg Battle App for Apple and Android users. It is a FREE GPS-enabled battle guide with plenty of maps, historical content, photos, and other resources. It’s narrated by Civil War expert, Garry Adelman. Go HERE for more information. The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or at Google Play. (You can also download Battle Apps for other battles, including Antietam, Vicksburg, Bull Run, and more. For more information about features, go here.

I’ll be adding more Gettysburg details daily. For now, though, kudos to the Civil War Trust for creating some  informative digital products!

 

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