Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Battle of Gettysburg: the behavior of the townspeople through the eyes of a young girl

Part 5 in a series of posts regarding the behavior of the citizends of Gettysburg before, during, and after the great battle. In this entry we hear from Matilda J. "Tillie" Pierce Alleman who was 15 years old at the time of the historic event. In her book "At Gettysburg: or, what a girl saw and heard of the battle", young Tillie Pierce writes:

My native townsmen, during that terrible struggle, acted as patriotic and bravely as it was possible for citizens to act, who had suddenly thrust upon them the most gigantic battle of modern times.

They had none of the weapons or munitions of war; they were not drilled and were totally unprepared for such an unthoughtof experience, They were civilians.

Long before had many of their sons and brothers gone to the front, and those who still remained were as true to the Union as those found at home in the other towns of the North.

Upon the first rumor of the rebel invasion, Major Robert Bell, a citizen of the place, recruited a company of cavalry from the town and surrounding country.


A company of infantry was also formed from the students and citizens of the place which was mustered into Col. Wm. Jennings' regiment of Pennsylvania Emergency Troops.

This regiment, on June 26th, was the first to encounter and exchange shots with the invaders of 1863. Though inexperienced, the stand they made, and the valor they displayed before an overwhelming force, cannot fail in placing the loyalty and bravery of her citizens in the foremost rank.

Opportunity was offered a few, who like old John Burns, went into the fray. To some like Professors Jacobs and Stower, came the occasion of explaining and pointing out to the Union officers the impregnable positions of the locality, and by this means insuring victory to our arms.

To others was given the oppottunity of concealing in their homes the brave Union boys who had been wounded in the first day's fight, who, in their retreat, had sought shelter in the house they could first reach, and there were Compelled to remain, within the Confederate lines, during the remainder of the battle.

Many a Union soldier would have gone to "Libby" or "Andersonville" had it not been for the loyalty and bravery of some of the citizens in thus secreting them.

To all was presented the opportunity of caring for the wounded and dying after the battle had passed, and nobly and feebly did they administer the tender and loving acts of charity even in their own homes as well as upon the field - and in the hospital.

Let those disposed to cavil and doubt the patriotism of the citizens of Gettysburg at the time of the battle forever cease, for what I have written is correct.

True it is there were a few who sympathized with the South just as in other Northern towns, but it would be unjust and unreasonable to condemn the many for the misdeeds of the few.

No comments: