Submitted by Ginny Gage
(Night of June 30, 1863)
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.
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
July 4, 2004
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,