Joseph Sherfy Farm House - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 48.224 W 077° 14.942
18S E 307465 N 4408393
Quick Description: This farm featured prominently in the Battle of Gettysburg & was added as a contributing structure to this historic district. The house stood between line of CS & US troops on July 2 & 3 1863.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/18/2011 6:29:29 PM
Waymark Code: WMC2XQ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Turtle3863
Views: 4

Long Description:

Many barns, farmsteads and associated outbuildings played important rolls during the Battle of Gettysburg both for the Union soldiers and for the Confederates as well. This farmstead has remained mostly unchanged except for some minor cosmetic differences on the outside of the farmhouse.

The Sherfy Farm is on Emmitsburg Road about a mile south of town. At the time of the battle the fifty acre farm was owned by Reverend Joseph Sherfy and included the famous Peach Orchard to the south of Wheatfield Road as well as both Big and Little Round Tops and the Devil's Den. The house is the original house built in the 1840's and still displays bullet holes in its brickwork, signs of the fierce fighting that took place around it on July 2nd and 3rd, 1863. The current barn replaced the original, which had been used by the Confederates as a field hospital but had burned during the battle.

Joseph (1813-1883) and Mary Sherfy (1818-1904) and their six children (a seventh would join the family after the war) were pacifist members of the Church of the Brethren. As the Union troops of John Reynolds' 1st Army Corps made their way up Emmitsburg Road on July 1st they found a large water tub along the road which Joseph worked to keep filled, while Mary and her mother Catherine baked bread and passd it out to the men. <>

They were ordered away from the farm on the morning of the 2nd, driving their stock southeast of the Round Tops and to Two Taverns. Joseph and his son returned on the 6th to find their house ransacked and hit by at least seven artillery shells. Their yard was covered with their posessions, which were trampled into the mud and mixed with blood, body parts and every imaginable kind of filth. The orchards and fences were destroyed and the fields covered with dead men and 48 dead horses. The ruins of the barn were filled with the charred remains of the men who had been unable to escape the fire.

One soldier from the 77th New York Infantry who observed it wrote, “As we passed the scene of conflict on the left was a scene more than unusually hideous. Blackened remains marked the spot where, on the morning of the 3rd, stood a large barn. It had been used as a hospital. It had taken fire from the shells of the hostile batteries, and had quickly burned to the ground. Those of the wounded not able to help themselves were destroyed by the flames, which in a moment spread through the straw and dry material of the building. The crisped and blackened limbs, heads and other portions of bodies lying half consumed among the heaps of ruins and ashes made up one of the most ghastly pictures ever witnessed, even on the field of war.”

The Sherfys cleaned, replanted, and rebuilt, and for years sold peaches from the famous orchard. It was a popular destination for the men who had fought in its fields, and one wall of the house was reportedly covered by photographs of veterans who had fought there. The farm today is owned by the National Park Service and the house is rented out.

There is an ID tablet in front of a wrought iron fence, marking the house. The house is located on Emmitsburg Road near the intersection with the Wheatfield/Millerstown Road. The famous Peach ORchard is across the street, owned by Mr. Sherfy. The house is owned by the NPS but used by the Gettysburg Foundation as a private building. The barn is used for park maintenance equipment. The barn is way to the left of the house and much closer to the road. The house was built in 1840 and completed in 1860. The original barn dates to 1850 and was reconstructed in 1868.

The Joseph Sherfy Farm House is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. This roadside marker is listed as contributing structure number 170.

From the NRHP narrative:

House stood between line of CS & US troops on July 2 & 3 1863. 57th Penn Infantry Regiment used the house as fortification against CS only to have have regiment captured when CS overran the place. Typical 19th-C Penn farm house.

Located on the Emmitsburg Road Ridge, the house was central to the battlefields of July 2 and 3. On the second day of the battle, the house was incorporated into the battle line of Graham’s Union Brigade. Men of one of the regiments fortified themselves within the house, firing especially from the east side of the building at attacking troops of McLaws’ Confederate Division before the position was outflanked and overrun. Ensuing battle action within and outside the house damaged its exterior and interior fabric. Evidence of this damage is still visible today. The house was also used to screen Union artillery positions on July 2, as Bucklyn’s Rhode Island Battery dueled with Confederate artillery on Seminary Ridge. On the following day, the front yard of the house was used for Confederate artillery purposes during the cannonade that preceded the Pickett-Longstreet Charge. Some of the interior fabric of the house is original to the battle era, but most dates to the 1880s addition. The arrangement of rooms was also altered sometime after the war on both floors of the house and prior to acquisition by NPS in early 1970s.

Short Physical Description:

2 1/2 stories, 30'6"x41', 18' high. 2-bay farm house w/ orig. 1-story brick "L" w/ 2nd-story brick cross gable & 2-story frame addition. Interior chimneys at N & S ends. Porch w/ Victorian detailing at E entrance. Orig & frame section lean-to roofs.

Long Physical Description

House (1840-60) is a 2-story, 3-bay brick Georgian style house built on a granite foundation, measuring 30.5 x 41.0 feet. The original Georgian house had a one-story brick kitchen ell on the back. After 1870, a brick second floor was added to the kitchen ell and in the 1880s a wood frame addition immediately adjacent to the brick ell filled in the rest of the space behind the house. A porch with Victorian detailing is on east.


My Sources
1. Draw the Sword
2. Stone Sentinels
3. NRHP Narrative

Related Website: [Web Link]

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