Blacks in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Margaret Palm was a colorful character in Gettysburg's African American community during the mid-nineteenth century. She served as a conductor along the local branch of the Underground Railroad, earning the nickname Maggie Bluecoat for the blue circa-1812 military coat she wore while conducting fugitive slaves north. One evening, she was accosted by two strangers who bound her hands and tried to kidnap her into Maryland and slavery. Her screams attracted help and she escaped her assailants.

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Home Used as Union Headquarters at the Battle of Gettysburg

On July 1, 1863, Federal troops surrounded the Leister farm - it was in the crook of the fishhook battle line along Cemetery Ridge. When General George Gordon Meade chose the Leister house (image left) as the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, Lydia and her children sought shelter with relatives who lived on the Baltimore Pike.

Lydia Leister was a widow who owned a modest farm along the …Read More...

Nurse at the Battle of Gettysburg

Erected in 1886, this monument to the First Massachusetts Infantry Regiment is south of Gettysburg on the Emmitsburg Road, where the regiment fought during the battle. It depicts a skirmisher stepping over a rail fence with Seminary Ridge in the background. At that time the Peter Rogers house stood just to the south of this monument.

The Battle of Gettysburg resulted in as many as 40,000 deaths, laid waste to the town's structures, and …Read More...

Caretaker of Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery

At the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, Elizabeth Thorn was caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery, a job normally performed by her husband Peter but he was away serving in the Union Army. Her elderly parents and her three small sons were living with her in the cemetery gatehouse, and she was six months pregnant. The cemetery grounds were littered with dead soldiers and horses, and it was her responsibility to bury them.

Image: Elizabeth Thorn …Read More...

Civil War Nurse at Gettysburg

Elizabeth Salome 'Sallie' Myers was born at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on June 24, 1842, the daughter of Peter and Mary Myers. Her father was a Justice of the Peace, and they were among the wealthier families in town. By 1863 Gettysburg was a thriving little community with 2,400 inhabitants, 190 of them African Americans.

At the age of sixteen Sallie became a school teacher. In 1863 she was employed by the Gettysburg public school system as …Read More...

Teenage Girl's View of the Battle of Gettysburg

Matilda (Tillie) Pierce was born in Gettysburg in 1848. She was 15 at the time of the battle, and had lived her entire life in Gettysburg, a village of 2400 persons. Her father made a good living as a butcher, and the family lived a comfortable life above his shop at the corner of South Baltimore and Breckinridge Streets in the heart of town. In the summer of 1863, Tillie was attending …Read More...