From the collection at the Adams County Historical Society, Gettysburg, PA.

Submitted by Ginny Gage

Mary McAllister

(Night of June 30, 1863) 
We slept none, watching the rebels.  They were in the mountains at Cashtown.  We could see their campfires.  Then the rebels came and they got close.

Wednesday, the first of July, the Union soldiers began to come into town and we thought we were safe, but in an hour or two the shooting began and that was the battle starting.  Then the Union infantry began to come down our street at double-quick.  Martha (Mary’s sister) had baked bread all that morning and I was stowing away things.  When the soldiers began coming down the street, they called:  Give us water!  Give us water!”  They were going at double-quick.  Our boys and Horner’s boys dipped the tin cups in the tubs and the soldiers tossed back the cups as they ran on.  And the biscuits got all burned and there was so much excitement that we went into the house.  We locked the doors and went upstairs and thought we could bar them out.  But soon the wounded ones came in so fast, and they took them in different houses and into the church.  The first wounded soldier I saw was with John McLean.  John was not fighting; he was too old to go into the army.  The first wounded man I saw he brought in.  The soldier was on a white horse and John was holding him by the leg.  The blood was running down out of the wound over the horse.  Our John (John Scott) had been sick and was just able to be about and he fainted.  John McLean went to Belle King’s and he hollers:  “Belle, come out here and help this man in.”  They got him off the horse and they let the horse go.  They brought him into our house and Martha and I put him on the lounge, and I didn’t know what in the world to do.  Mrs. Weikert lived near us and she said Let us go to the church.  We can be of use there.”  Martha had torn up sheets for bandages and I gathered up sheets and water and Mrs. Weikert and I went to the church and we went to work.  They carried the wounded in there as fast as they could.  We took the cushions off the seats and some officers came in and said “Lay them in the aisles.”  Then we did all we could for the wounded men.  After a while they carried in an awfully wounded one.  He was a fine officer.  They did not know who he was.  A doctor said to me “Go and bring some wine or whiskey or some stimulant!”  When I got outside I thought of Mr. Guyer near the church.  “Well,” I said, “Mr. Guyer, can you give me some win?”  He said “The rebels will be in here if you begin to carry that out.”  “I must have it,” I said.  “Give me some.”  I put it under my apron and went over to the church with it.  They poured some of it into the officer’s mouth.  I never knew who he was, but he died.  Well, I went to doing what they told me to do, wetting cloths and putting them on the wounds and helping.  Every pew was full; some sitting, some lying, some leaning on others.  They cut off the legs and arms and threw them out of the windows.  Every morning the dead were laid on the platform in a sheet or blanket and carried away.  There was a boy with seven of his fingers near off.  He said, “Lady, would you do something for me?”  The surgeon came along and he said “What is the use doing anything for them?”  and he just took his knife and cut off the fingers and they dropped down.  Well, I was so sorry.  A man sat in a pew and he was young and white (pale from shock).  He said, “Lady, come here.  Do you know if there is a Mason in town?”  I said, “Yes, there is one Harper, a printer, but he has left town and I know no other. (She was speaking of Robert Goodloe Harper, editor of the  Adams Sentinel.)  “Oh!”  he said, “if you could only get to him.”  But I was too scared.  The church was full and just then there was a shell struck the roof and they got scared, and I was scared.  I wanted to go home.  (I often think that a shell might be in the church yet).  I looked around for Mrs. Weikert.  They said “They are going to shell the church!”  Well, they begged me not to go, but I went out and there the high church steps were full of wounded men and they begged me not to try to cross the street.  Our men were retreating up the street.  Many wounded ones who could walk carried the worst wounded ones on their backs.  I said, “Oh, I want  go home.”  So they let me go at last.  I struggled through the wounded and the dead and forgot the horror in the fright.  I was as high (far) up as Beuhler’s drug store before I got across the street and got home. When I came to the door it was standing open and the step was covered with blood. “Oh!” I thought, “All are dead!” and I ran through.  I could hardly get through for the dining room was full of soldiers, some lying, some standing.  Some ran in to get out of the shooting.  The rebels were sending grapeshot down the street and everyone who was on the street had to get into the houses or be killed and that is the way some of these Union men got into our house.  Col. Morrow, of the 24th Michigan, was in our house.  I saw the blood on his face for he had been cut on the head with a sabre (Note:  It was a bullet that grazed his scalp – see Official Records 27-1-271) and I said:  “Can I do anything for you?”  He said, “Yes, if you would just wash this handkerchief out.”  I rushed out to get water and I washed it out and laid it on his head.  There was a young Irishman in there, too.  His name was Dennis Burke Dailey, 2nd Wisconsin.  He was so mad when he found what a trap they were in.  He leaned out of the kitchen window and saw the bayonets of the rebels bristling in the alley and in the garden.  I said, “There is no escape there.”  I opened the kitchen door and they were tearing the fence down with their bayonets.  This young Irishman says “I am not going to be taken prisoner, Colonel!”  And he says to me “Where can I hide?”  I said, “I don’t know, but you can go upstairs.”  “No,” he said, “but I will go up the chimney.”  “You will not,” said the Colonel.  “You must not endanger this family.”  So he came back.  He was so mad he gritted his teeth.  Then he says to me “Take this sword, and keep it at all hazards.  This is Gen. Archer’s sword.  He surrendered it to me.  I will come back for it.”  I ran to the kitchen, got some wood and threw some sticks on top of it.  The Iron Brigade was the one that captured Gen. Archer and made him give up his sword.  This Dailey was the only officer and Gen. Archer would not give it to a private.  So Dailey stepped up and said “I am next in command!” and he took the sword.  Col. Morrow says to me “Take my diary.  I do not want them to get it.”  I did not know where to put it, so I opened my dress and put it in my dress.  He said, “That’s the place, they will not get it there.”  Then all those wounded men crowded around and gave me their addresses. Then this Irishman, he belonged to the 2nd Wisconsin, said, “Here is my pocketbook, I wish you would keep it.”  Afterward I did not remember what I did with it, but what I did was to pull the little red cupboard away and put it back of that.  In the meantime Martha had gone upstairs and brought a coat of John’s.  She said, “Here, Colonel, put this coat on.”  But he would not take the coat she brought him.  He would not stoop to disguise himself and he gave the others orders that they were to give their right names when they were taken prisoners.  So he kept his officer’s coat and epaulettes.  Then there came a pounding on the door.  Col. Morrow said, “You must open the door.  They know we are in here and they will break it.”  By this time the rebels came in and they said, “Oh, here is a bird!”  He was such a fine looking man.  But they just demanded his sword.  He had a beautiful sword.  They paroled some.  There was a young man there from Michigan, the same as Col. Morrow.  He said “Do write to my mother.  I am slightly wounded, but I guess they will take me prisoner.  I had all these addresses, but I mislaid his and did not find it until two months afterward.  Then I wrote to his mother and the same day she got a letter from him and it seems he had escaped.  It was this way – they were exchanging prisoners at Libby Prison and this young man thought he would just come and stand in line, though his name had not been called.  He thought nothing worse could happen than for him to be shot, so he just walked to the other end of the line while the officers were at the opposite end, and no one knew that he had no right to be there.  So he was taken with the rest to Baltimore and there paroled, and somehow he got to his mother.  Then he entered medical (or was it law) school and he had just graduated when he took typhoid fever and died.  His mother was heartbroken.  She wrote to me.  He was one they took prisoner in our dining room, along with Col. Morrow and the rest.  That Irishman, (Dailey) he was so stubborn.  He was a major (1st Lt., acting ADC on Gen. Meredith’s brigade staff) then.  He stood back so very solemn.  Then they took him prisoner.  He asked them to let him come back into the house.  Then he said to us “Give me apiece of bread.”  Martha said, “I have just one piece and that is not good.”  He said, “It don’t make any difference.  I must have it.  I have not had anything to eat for 24 hours.”  Then the rebels took him.  That the wounded in there saw.  Then the rebels said “Those that are not able to walk we will not take; we will parole them.”  But they said to these wounded men “Now if you ever get to fight you know what we will do.”  But the wounded ones did not pay much attention to that.  Then they took away as prisoners all that could walk.  The next thing then was to get these wounded fixed.  Then the firing ceased for that evening.  That was the time we went upstairs to get some of the wounded ones in bed and to get pillows to make the others as comfortable as we could.  Five surgeons came in and one of them said, “Now if you had anything like a red flag, it would be a great protection to your house, because it would be considered a hospital, and they would have respect.”  Well, Martha thought of a red shawl she had.  She got it and I got the broom ad we hoisted the front window and were just fixing it on the broom when six or seven rebels came riding up the street firing and yelling.  Well, we did not know what we were doing.  They halted at the church to say something to the wounded men on the high church steps who had gathered themselves out of range of the firing, and in a few minutes a pistol went off and we saw they had shot a man.  He was down then ad when we looked, he was lying with his head toward us on the pavement.  And those men on the steps said, “Shame!  Shame!  That was a Chaplain!”  Those on horseback said, “He was going to shoot.”  But the wounded men said, “He was not armed.”  They had a good many words and then they rode off again, shooting as they had come. 

July 2

A surgeon came over the next morning and he said, “We regret terribly about our Chaplain.  He was one of the best men.”  They had carried him into the yard and buried him.  His name was Rev. Horatio S. Howell (90th Pa. Inf.).  Well, we went through that first night as best we could.  Next day, the second day of the battle, we went to work-for the rebels, too.  Martha cooked and did what she could and I undertook to bake bread.  I went on the street and the wounded begged so hard for bread and butter that I started to go to Scott’s, down the street, to try to find milk or butter.  Next, then, the wounded officers upstairs were making me go for some liquor some place and I went to Dr. Horner. He said, “Go to Alex Buehler’s drug store.”  So I went.  Alex said he would give me fifty cents worth in their canteen and he filled it.  Then there came a shell into their house and knocked a hole in the side of the front door, through the wall.  “Well!” he said, “you will be killed if you stay.”  As I went out, he said, “Don’t let them see it!”  I think Col. Thompson (LtCol James McLean Thomson, 107th Pa.) was upstairs and two others.  One, a Capt. Gish (Capt. Jacob V. Gish, Co. B, 107 Pa.), was shot through the leg.  But they took the whiskey and divided it and you can tell it brought song.  So I never went for any more.  The wounded ones downstairs were the ones I was most interested in.  All this time one poor man suffered awful.  He was struck with a bullet and it came around.  You could see it in his back.  I went into Mrs. Belle King’s where there was a good many surgeons and I begged them to come over and look at this man.  I said, “You can take the bullet out for you can see it.”  But they would not come and I threatened to report them and one of them sassed me a little.  Then I got Dr. Robert Horner (civilian physician of Gettysburg).  We had no light.  The gas was out and we had no lamps.  So Martha thought of twisting paper and dipping it in lard.  I held the lighted paper while the doctor took the bullet out. It was all ragged and the doctor gave it to the man and said, “There, take that and put it in your knapsack for a keep-sake.”  The man said, “I feel better already!”  I put wet cloths on the wound.  In my store I then traded in meats and bacon from the country people.  In a corner of the basement I threw some pieces of bacon on the floor and piled some old sacks over them.  The rebels had full sway through here, but the rebels were actually good to us.  They went to Boyer’s store at the corner and got cod fish and wanted us to cook them and Martha did.  Then other rebels came and went down to the basement.  This was after they had taken the wounded men out of the basement to the church.  They did that at night.  Well, I had barrels of molasses in the basement – a whole lot of it. The rebels drew out that molasses in crocks and carried it out.  (Note:  Miss Mary told me the “crocks” were new chambers which they had taken from the shelves of her store, but she thought I ought to write “crocks”).  At last I went down with a bucket and I said, “You must give me some of that molasses.”  Well, they said they needed it worse, but they took my bucket and drew it full, though they objected.  Mrs. King would sass them like everything, and she said, “Well, I see you are not very particular about what kind of molasses jars you use.”  “If you were as hungry as we are,” they said, “you would not care.”  I had just got in another barrel of molasses the week before and it was still at the warehouse.  They stole all my tea but I had some hid and I had some coffee.  About all I lived on was strong tea and crackers.  Five surgeons stayed with us.  They told Martha she would have to cook for them.  So every now and then I would get this side meat from the basement and we baked cake with some shortening, baked it on a griddle on top of the stove.  As fast as I got it baked, they ate it up.  On the evening of the second day’s battle a rebel came and said he was going to guard us.  Then he got another one (Confederate soldier) and he got very sassy.  I ordered him out but he said he was not going to go, and he was ugly (in his speech).  He would taunt the wounded Union men.  I went out on the street and halted an officer.  He jumped off his horse.  I said, “There are two of your men upstairs and I want you to take them out.”  “Hi!” he says, “you got some Yanks up here, treating them fine, too.”  He did not deign to talk to those rebels, but asked what they wanted.  “Well,” one said, “she ordered us out and she got a little lippy.”  The rebel officer said, “I wish every one of them were out, but at the same time you get out.”  “Now,” he says to me, “you get me something to eat.  I have not had anything for a few days.”  So I took him back and there were these surgeons sitting around the table and all we had was bacon and bread and molasses.  He only ate a little bread and meat, then he called for a clean plate and took a piece of pie with a great flourish.  When he was done, he never said a word, but went out.  They (the surgeons) would have liked to know who he was, but did not ask him.

July 3, 2004
Next day a couple of men came in and called for something to eat.  Martha had baked pie and she brought one into the hall to the table there.  She set it down, with a knife, and said, “Now you cut it the best way you can.”  He cut it and said, “You eat a piece.”  She said, “Do you think it is poison?  The women here don’t poison people.”  But he would not eat it; he was afraid it was poisoned.  I went over to the warehouse and saw the head knocked in of my barrel of molasses.  They were dipping in anything they could get, into this barrel – crocks and buckets and anything, and I went for some, too.  They were the hardest (toughest) looking men you could see.  I said, “Don’t knock that barrel over, it is mine.”  They said, “You damn old b____, you go to the house.”  That was the only thing that ever came near an insult.  Then they said to this rebel that we had for a safe guard, “What are you doing?  I guess you are sneaking around.  I guess we will shoot you.”  These (soldiers) looked like tramps.  It was after this that this guard got so lippy, but the officer I called took Mr. Rebel out and said (to me), “If any other comes in here and annoys you, send up to Middle Street where I have my headquarters.  I will see that you are not molested.”  Then he gave me his name.  Cobeans lived at the corner.  I knew they had cows in the stable, but the family had gone to the country.  On the morning of the second day’s battle I said, “I believe I will go milk those cows.”  But though some women had already milked the cows, they gave me part of a bucket of milk.  Just at Cobean’s gate lay a dead man, and there were wounded men on the hard pavement.  “Oh,” they said, “give us a little milk.”  Well, by the time they all had some, I had hardly a pint left.  I gave it out as I came along.  Martha said, “Did you get any milk?”  “Yes,” I said, “a little.”  Indeed we had not much of anything, and we were hungry.  But I drank a strong tea and ate water crackers which I had hid in the attic and the wounded men could take a few of these.  And so we had to live along until the country people began to bring things in after the battle.  A man kept a little store in Mrs. King’s room, but he left town and the rebels tore off his old bay window on the first evening of the battle.  Mrs. King was scared, for she was in the house with her mother and her little children.  We got scared, for then they had (at that time there was) a thoroughfare from the alley.  At night, when it was quiet, there was a rebel patrol on the street.  It was a cloudy, ugly night and Mrs. King said, “We will go over there and ask them to give us a guard.” So we went to the church there they had headquarters in the yard.  I do not think they were in the basement, for that is where they took off the limbs of the wounded ones.  Mrs. King said, “Is there an officer among you?”  That minute they sat down their guns and were polite.  One says, “Come out, Captain!”  “Well,” Mrs. King said (to him), “your men are breaking our doors down, and I have an old mother that is very feeble, and little children, and we want a guard.  And this one (meaning me) is just as bad off.  They have no one but themselves.”  He said, “Are any of you boys willing to guard these women?”  Two stepped front and said, “We will go.”  They all laughed and said, “You have a snap of it.”  They began to lay their blankets down in front of our door and Mrs. King asked them if they had had anything to eat and they said they had not.  So she went in and got the biscuits and bread she had and gave to them.  It was very damp and I invited them to lay their blankets inside the hall.  No, they said, they would rather not.  I think they were a little suspicious right away.  We began to talk a little.  They said, “Well, now, we are Pennsylvanians, too, born and bred in Pennsylvania.”  I said, “Is that possible?”  “Yes,” they said, “we were both educated in Washington College, Pa., and if you had lived in the South you would have been as we are.”  They were nice men.  You could tell that they were gentlemen, and we were not molested anymore.  This was the way we had to sleep – Martha and four children lay crossways on a bed in the front room because every other place was full of wounded.  I sat on a chair with a skirt folded to lay on the window sill, with the window hoisted.  There I slept for three nights, with my head on my arms. The wounded men in our house told us on the afternoon of the third:  “We know our cannons.  We know our men, and those cannons, and we are getting the better of them.  Don’t be scared, for we believe they are whipped.”  That night Lee’s wagons began to go out (of town).  Our rebel guards had come each night and lay at our door and I heard them all night long.  The evening of the third day Mrs. King brought out a lot of biscuits again and she said to them, “Now eat some.”  They said they had had a right good supper.  “Well, then,” she said, “put them in your knapsacks. You can eat them on your retreat.”  “Oh,” they said, “we are not going to retreat.”  There was some talk about (General) McClellan coming with a big army.  “Why, yes,” Mrs. King said, “McClellan will be here before morning with a big army!”  They took the biscuits and put them in their knapsacks and lay down to rest.  I went in the house and was at my post there when these wagon trains began to go out.  I wakened Martha and said, “I believe the rebels are retreating.”  “Oh, if it is only true,” she said, “for I am hardly able to go it.”  After a while a man came running down the street and he wakened these guards and he said, “Get up, get up, we are retreating!”  I felt like saying goodbye to them, but it would have seemed like mockery.

July 4, 2004
By morning they were all cleared out, and when we came down there was nobody about, only what were wounded.  I went out and Mrs. Horner came out and began scraping off her pavement the mud and blood.  And the first thing we knew, a Union band began to play and I think I never herd anything sweeter, and I never felt so glad in my life. After a while all that hushed, too.  They began to barricade the street. They brought out old wagons.  Those rebel sharpshooters were keeping up a show as if to make another charge.  I went over to old Mrs. Weikert’s and on her back porch there was a man.  He said, “Take care, you will be shot!  Oh, I believe I am shot.”  He looked down and a bullet had just gone through the fleshy part of his leg.  Mrs. Weikert had  student boarders and this was one of those students.  (He was Amos Moser Whetstone, student at the Gettysburg Theological Seminary). I started out to hunt for something good for a wounded man that was in our house. He wanted bread and butter, so I thought I’d go to see if Mrs. Abram Scott had any.  A man came to me and said, “Do get in off the street.  You will get shot because of the sharpshooters.”  We were so happy with the prospect that the rebels were out of town.  But this man went and got a piece of meat and some bread and butter and I brought it home and Martha fixed it for the sick man.  This shooting went on nearly all day on July 4, but we heard that they really had retreated.  But those sharpshooters did keep our men back.  They took most of the wounded out of our house and over to the church and we attended to them as well as we could.  Then we got fixed some and the country people began to bring in vegetables, fowls, bread, milk, or anything, but they had not many cows, as they had been driven off by the raiders.  The morning after the battle was over, someone came in and said there was a man on horseback (who) wanted to see me.  Here was David Wills (Judge and respected citizen of Gettysburg) with a man on horseback.  He said, “Miss Mary, don’t you know me?”  I looked at him a little and I said, “No-o!  You do look a little like Col. Morrow, but the rebels took him.”  “Why,” he said, “God bless you, I am Col. Morrow, safe and sound, and I called for my diary.  I am going on to join the army.  They are going on toward Frederick and I want to catch them.”  I said, “Tell me how you got away from them.”  Well, they took him to the college and took away his sword and everything, but he said he found a (green) surgeon’s sash and tied it on, and went among the soldiers.  He went among the wounded and attended to them.  When it came night, he thought he would come to our house, but he got lost and came to the square to the Wills house and they hid him, and after the battle he came to see me.  He said, “Now, you know I had no coat and no sword.”  “I have a sword here and it belonged to Gen. Archer.  You can have that one.  It is a pretty sword.”  That was a bad way to keep a trust.  “But,” I said, “you must promise me if ever you meet this man (and I told him Dailey’s name) you must give it to him.”  “Yes,” he said, “On the honor of a soldier and a gentleman, I promise to give it to him.”  So he buckled on this sword and went away.  In two days afterward here came another man.  I did not know him at all.  He was carrying a gun and had an old hat on.  Martha looked at him and said, “Why, look here, you were taken prisoner!”  It was Dennis Burke Dailey, 2nd Wisconsin.  Well, I was scared.  The sword flashed on my mind at once.  He said, “I have come for the sword.”  I said, “I thought you were in Libby Prison and maybe they would come back and take me, and I gave it to Col. Morrow.”  Well, he did not seem to blame me, but he looked so disappointed.  Then Martha said, “Come in and we will give you something to eat.”  He said, “Yes, I am hungry.  I have had nothing to eat since that piece of bread you gave me.  They took me to the mountain and they all were tired out, and they came around and gave each of the prisoners a little flour, but we had nothing to cook it with, an I took out my piece of read and ate a little.”  Well, he said he watched the guard and after a while his gun sank down and the man went to sleep.  Dailey said he rolled over once to see how it would work.  He said he never heard so many sticks crack in his life.  Then he rolled a little more, over rocks and briars.  He rolled and rolled until he came to a big log and there scraped up the leaves.  He said he would have given anything for water, but he ate a little bread and there, under the leaves, he went to sleep.  In the morning he could hear nothing, but was afraid to move.  He laid there all the next day.  He knew those troops had gone on, but he first heard firing and then rumbling.  That night he passed further off.  The second day he came to a stream and there he got water and that was so good.  That night he got into a wheat field and lay there all the next day and was afraid to go out for fear he would be captured, and had nothing to eat but dry bread.  He was nearly famished.  He said, “I met a man when I got into the country where I could trust people.  This man had been wounded and he said our men had all gone toward Frederick to get ahead of the rebels at the Potomac River.”  After I told Dailey I gave the sword to Col. Morrow, I said, “What else did you give me?”  “I gave you my pocketbook,” he said.  “Now, while you are eating, I will hunt for it,”  I said, “but I know no more about it than you do.”  I hunted until I was worn out.  “Now,” he said, “don’t worry.  You will find it, maybe, sometime; and I will come back when the war is over.”  Martha went out to the kitchen and pulled the dresser away.  The pocketbook was there, all mouldy.  Then he got ready, and, with that old musket, he started off.  In a few days I got a letter from him.  He had got Gen. Archer’s sword from Col. Morrow.  But when the war was over, Dailey thought so much of his general that he gave him a present of the sword.  But the general he gave the sword to, died soon after the close of the war.  I think his name was Meredith (correct – Solomon Meredith, who died Oct. 2, 1875).  Then Dailey thought he would like to have the sword back again.  He belonged to the Iron Brigade.  He wrote to me that I should write him a letter, how I kept that sword for him and then gave it to Col. Morrow. I had to write the letter about the sword before he got it back again after his general died.  One morning when he went out just at daylight, a few days after the battle, there was a woman leaning against one of the trees.  She was weeping.  I said, “What is the matter?”  “Oh,” she said, “I got a dispatch (saying that) my husband was dying and I came here last night, in the night time, and every place was shut up and I could not get in, everything was so full, and they knew nothing about my husband.  She thought if she could just get him home, she could cure him.  “Oh,” I said, “come to the house and we will give you some breakfast and we will help you try to find out something.”  Some soldiers that saw me talking to her said, “He died soon after the dispatch was sent and he is buried and it will be almost impossible to find him.”  The governor had given free transportation to all Pennsylvanians to take their dead away.  She said she had spent all hr money coming.  Well, she sobbed and cried.  They (the soldiers) said they had dug a trench and laid them (the dead) in rows in the old grave yard.  Finally, they told her they had found her husband then the employees around the depot paid her way back. 


General Archer’s sword has been preserved and is in private hands.

George Guyer’s house is still standing, at 52 Chambersburg Street.

Alexander Cobean’s house,no longer standing, was on the southwest corner of Chambersburg and Washington Streets.

Alexander Buehler’s drug store, no longer standing (MY note:  “no longer standing” is crossed out) was the third building west of the square, on the north side of Chambersburg Street. 

A Confederate cavalryman fired a carbine bullet into Chaplain Howell’s forehead as the latter stood on the steps of the church.

Charles F. Webber, Private, Co. A, 84th New York infantry (commonly referred to as the “14th Brooklyn”), lost the ends of four fingers of one hand shot off, and was treated at the hospital established at Christ Lutheran Church.  Webber died from the effects of his wounds a few days later.

The above is from the collection at the Adams County Historical Society, Gettysburg, PA.