St. Francis Xavier Church - U.S. Civil War - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.718 W 077° 13.922
18S E 308990 N 4411121
Quick Description: Beautiful church with strong ties dating back to the Civil War, including serving as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 11/16/2010 7:56:52 PM
Waymark Code: WMA4TR
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 3

Long Description:

During the Civil War battle of Gettysburg in 1863, some of the the most seriously wounded, numbering 200-250, were taken to this church, where they were nursed by The Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland. One of the sisters wrote, "They lay on the pew seats, under the pews, in every aisle, and there was scarcely room to pass among them in the sanctuary and in the gallery . . . . The Station pictures hung around the walls, and a very large oil painting of St. Francis Xavier, holding in his hand a crucifix to show the benighted pagans the sign of their Redemption. This was a Book read by our poor men, for we had in that Church but one Catholic, and our glorious saint was for the time resuming his apostolical mission among them. The first man put in the sanctuary was soon baptized, and with truly Christian sentiments. His pain was excruciating and when sympathy was offered to him he said, ‘Oh! What are these pains I suffer in comparison with those my Redeemer suffered for me.’ In these sentiments he died." While they cared for the bodies, the Sisters did not neglect the souls of their patients and many died with these holy women comforting them with assurances of God’s infinite love and mercy. (Source cited below)

The cornerstone of the present church was laid on June 20, 1852, by the new Bishop of Philadelphia, John Neumann. He came back the next year to dedicate the church on July 31, 1853.

There are marvelous works of art to the right and left of the main entrance featuring relief scenes of the Gettysburg Battle. Inside are insanely beautiful stained glass depicting various religious scenes from the Bible. The bell tower was pretty neat too, which more resembled a cupola with a bell inside than the large, imposing towers seen on most churches. The church was renovated and added to in the later years so it does not look like its late 19th century self as seen in some vintage pictures.

From my previous waymark about this site:

The sign is new and stands in front and to the right of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. It is in front of the sidewalk on the grass. The sign focuses on the history of the church especially its involvement as a hospital during the civil war.

The sign reads

"...I Am Going To Die"
Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church

Erected in 1853, this church served as a field hospital during and after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. While the church was substantially altered in 1925, much of the original Civil War era structure remains intact. Within its walls some 200 wounded Union and Confederate soldiers were treated by army surgeons and other volunteer personnel including nuns from the Sisters of Charity of nearby Emmmitsburg.

Gettysburg resident Salmone "Sallie" Myers, who resided a few doors west of here, recalled seeing the suffering in the building. "I went into the Roman Catholic Church. The men were scattered all over it, some lying on pews and some on the bare floor. The suffering and the groans of the wounded and dying were terrible to see and hear. I knelt by the first one inside the door and said 'what can I do for you.' He looked up at me with mournful eyes and said 'Nothing. I am going to die." He was Sergeant Alexander Stewart of the One Hundred and Forty Ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers." Stewart soon died of his wounds.

43 West High Street Gettysburg, PA 17325

Name of War: U.S. Civil War

Type of Documentation: Historic Marker/Interpretive

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