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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