In Camp at Gettysburg

Chapter 23 (July 5, 1863 – July 8, 1863)

While lying in camp here the writer went to town to have a few cakes baked. We soon found a place where a lady was doing some baking for the soldiers. We asked her whether she would bake us some cakes. She seemed to be delighted to have the privilege, and said to us that we should make a chair until the cakes were baked. And we certainly were delighted to wait until they were baked. But while waiting for the cakes an order came in and in a very stern and commanding way asked the lady if he could have some cakes? She answered: “Yes, as soon as this soldier is served I will bake some for you.” The officer said: “Let him wait. I am an officer, serve me first.” This the lady resented, and said: “No, he shall be served first, then you shall have your cakes.”

When the cakes were baked she very nicely handed them to me. I thanked her very kindly for them. The officer was not pleased at all, but notwithstanding he had to wait to be served until after I had received my cakes. I always had a kind feeling for this young lady, and often wished I knew her name.

We had in our company a soldier by the name of William Henry Harrison Shiffer; for short we called him Bawley. Bawley was a fiery red headed fellow, his face and hands full of red spots. Well, Bawley was away from camp for a day or two, having been lost. On seeing him coming back to the company, Jim Smith said: “Why do kumt yo der Bawley, dar wor fur shure furlora, gook usht amohl we rushtic dos ar is,” [“Why here comes Bawley, surely he was lost, look how ‘rusty’ he looks.”]  This did not suit Bawley very well and he expressed himself by using some very strong language such as is not found in Sunday school books.

About 10:30 a. m. we were relieved from our sickening duties of burying the dead and the order to march was given. We traveled down the Baltimore pike to Littlestown and encamped near the town. Marched 10 miles.

We remained in this camp until the morning of the seventh, Tuesday, when we struck tents, marched back into Maryland, passed thru Taneytown, Woodsboro, Middleburg, and Walkersville, and encamped near the latter place. Marched 28 miles.

Wednesday, July 8th. Broke camp, passed thru Walkersville, Frederick City, and Jefferson, and encamped about one and a fourth mile from the latter place, traveling 15 miles. This was a hard day on all of us, because of the very heavy rain all day, which made the pike like mortar. Here we first heard of the surrender of General Pemberton to General Grant at Vicksburg, Miss. We were drenched to the skin and almost exhausted by our hard marches and fighting and the extreme hot weather, so that when we arrived at Frederick and General Geary read the dispatch to us not a single cheer was given. We felt at this time like Solly App, who said, in the droll way on one of our heavy marches and when we were nearly played out: “Ich fecht fur de Union, ovver de naighst mog tsum divel ga.” [“I will fight for the Union as we go over the hill the next time.”]

A bright, jovial and good looking young man had come to our camp after the Chancellorsville campaign, his name was Richardson, and hailed from Howard county, Md., and became our newsboy. He rode a horse and the papers he sold were unfolded and spread over the horse’s back from which he distributed them throughout the camp at five cents each, and Company G bought many a paper from him. We all liked him. He continued with us on our Gettysburg campaign, making his headquarters with the army wagon train. While the army marched to Gettysburg the wagon train was sent to Westminster, Md., about 40 miles away. When the battle was over the train was sent in advance of the army to Frederick City. While there this young man was suspicioned by General Kilpatrick of being a rebel spy.

He was arrested and found guilty, he having at the time of his arrest a complete map of the defenses of Baltimore and Washington. It was said that when these papers were found on his person and when confronted with the other strong evidence, which was brought against him, that he made a full confession and said that he had been in communication with the rebel cavalry and had he not been arrested for one hour more our entire wagon train would have been destroyed by the rebel cavalry. As a result of information given he was immediately ordered to be hanged just west of the city and left hanging for three days. The whole army, which had been concentrated at Frederick, was marched by this rebel spy.

We saw him on the second day after he was hanged. He was entirely nude, his eyes protruded from their sockets and were wide open, the veins over his body were much swollen, in short, it was a horrible sight to behold. A poor, misguided, intelligent young man, who offered up his young life without honor to himself, his family or his country.

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