Letter Reporting Death of Winfield Scott Safford

Esteemed Member Carol Safford DeBeradinis writes

I have been a subscriber to the digest for quite a long time and have enjoyed it very much. I have learned a lot from the exchanges but have not participated in the discussions often as my life does not leave me much time. But today I have a question.

I have learned throught researching my family's Civil War history, which by the way is quite extensive, I have a cousin who was killed at Gettysburg on the first day of the battle. He was 1st Leut. Winfield Scott Safford of the 24th Michigan. He was killed near Reynolds Woods. I have a letter from his unit to his brother informing them of his last moments. It is quite a moving letter. It states that he was buried in an orchard owned by a "Mr Dustman, on the Chambersburg Rd near the Semenary".

Does anyone know where that property may be found? I try to get to Gettysburg at least for the Rememberence Day weekend each year and would like to visit the spot if I can.

I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you
Carol Safford DeBeradinis

Esteemed member greenelt@cvn.net (greenelt) contributes:

Esteemed Carol:

I must say, this letter has intrigued me much, and I will explain in a moment. First, the Dustman farm stood on Seminary Ridge between the Chambersburg Rd. and the Eastern R.R. Cut. It is no longer there. Today Larson's Quality Inn sits in the approx. area, and a few residences.

There were orchards on the Western slope of Seminary Ridge then, mostly South of the pike, and according to the Warren Map to the north as well (around the Thompson house). I don't know the property lines, so I don't know if they belong to Dustman. That can be found out.

This becomes interesting, because on the Warren Map, there are no orchards shown on what would have been Dustman property on the eastern slope until you arrive at the property of Miss. Carrie Sheads - but the photographic evidence says otherwise! On page 74-75 of A Journey in Time by William Frassanito, there is a photograph taken from near the site of the Dustman house and barn, looking east to the Sheads house. True to the Warren map, there is an orchard around the Sheads house, but in the foreground, on what surely would have been Dustman's property, there is indeed a small peach orchard, and in that photo there is visable the freshly dug grave of a lone union soldier! All Frassanito says in his text is: "But more poignant is the mound of light-colored earth seen amid the young peach trees in the forground. According to a contemporary burial map of the field, this grave contains the lone body of a soldier from the North."

Of course I don't know if that was your ancestor! But your letter brought that picture (taken 12 days after the battle) to mind. I will try to find out more for you as I have the time. Perhaps some of the other esteemed members might know more tidbits of info for you.


Guy M. Greeneltch

July 26,1863
Gettysburg, Pa

To Robert Crawford Safford,
eldest son of Rufus Safford,
brother of Winfield Scott Safford

Mr. R.C. Safford
Dear Sir:

I recieved your letter of the 20th last evening and hasten to answer it.

I found your brother in about an hour after the battle and staid with him all night. In the morning I succeeded in getting him carried to a barn and he lived till about four in the afternoon. The ball went in near the pit of the stomach and struck the spine and lodged. The Dr. took the ball out but said it was a mortal wound. He suffered very much but was very patient and said but little. Several times he would say, "Oh my God, my country, my father, my mother".

Your brother was buried in an orchard owned by Mr. Dustman on the Chamersburg Road, near the Theological Seminary. The man is a poor man and did not want to have him buried on his place bu I told him I thought his friends would be after his body.

And, Mr. Safford, your brother behaved most splendidly. He fell at the head of his Company rallying around the Dear Old Flag. Her deserves a monument.

His valise etc......
Yours Respectfully
Sergt A Pomeroy