Gettysburg Then

By the time the Civil War began in 1861, Gettysburg was a busy town, although still small by most standards. Its 2,400 citizens kept up on the news of the war through newspapers, visitors, and the telegraph.

gettysburg baltimore st 1863Many of the town’s men joined the Union Army in the first year of the war, so by 1863 when the famous Battle of Gettysburg took place, few able-bodied men were around to protect the remaining residents. This photo, taken just before the Gettysburg Address was delivered on November 19, 1863, shows how Gettysburg was still mostly rural. This is the south end of Baltimore Street. Tillie Pierce’s house (the rooftop and chimney) can be seen in it. (Her house is circled in this photo that is in the book.)

Confederate dead, view looking toward the orchard on the Rose farm, July 5, 1863

Confederate dead, view looking toward the orchard on the Rose farm, July 5, 1863

Before this battle, Gettysburg was not well known. Its primary business was carriage-making. Many farms surrounded the town itself. Some of those included the Trostle farm, more than one Weikert farm, the Rose farm, the Spangler farm, the Bushman farm, and several others. In early July 1863, those fields became battlegrounds.

cemetery gatehouse 1863

The Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse after the battle

No part of Gettysburg was safe from cannons and gunfire. Even the beloved Evergreen Cemetery was swarmed by soldiers. Afterwards, the cemetery’s once-beautiful gatehouse was, in a way, another casualty of the battle, not to mention the extensive damage to headstones, statues, and memorials in the cemetery itself. Hundreds of dead men and animals lay scattered on the cemetery’s grounds.


A Civil War field hospital, very much like what the Weikert property looked like during and after the battle

After the three-day battle, thousands of wounded soldiers could not be moved. Confederate and Union men needed care—and the people of Gettysburg, including Tillie, the Pierces, the Weikerts, and the Shrivers, did their best to tend to their wounded bodies, minds, and spirits.


(NOTE: All photos from The Library of Congress.)