Gettysburg Presbyterian Church - U.S. Civil War - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.705 W 077° 13.856
18S E 309083 N 4411094
Quick Description: This Presbyterian church is rather famous having served as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and having been visited by two United States Presidents.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/28/2013 10:54:01 AM
Waymark Code: WMHNT1
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 3

Long Description:

Gettysburg Presbyterian Church began its work in 1740 in a log structure situated three miles west of town, at the present site known as Black's Graveyard. The congregation moved to the present location in 1842. The original building consisted only of a sanctuary. During and immediately following the Battle of Gettysburg, the church along with many other public buildings was converted into a temporary hospital.

On November 19, 1863, four months after the battle, President Lincoln came to Gettysburg to take part in the dedication of the National Cemetery. At 5PM, following the morning ceremonies at which he delivered the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln attended a patriotic meeting in this church. He was accompanied by John Burns, a local patriot. The original pew is marked with a bronze plaque. The present church building was erected in 1963, reusing the original rafters and artifacts from the building that was replaced.

On February 1, 1963, President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower became members of the church. The pew President Eisenhower occupied was so marked with a plaque. The church also has an Eisenhower Lounge containing prints of paintings and memorabilia of the late President.

The Gettysburg Presbyterian Church was selected for a special citation as American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Site No. 94 and is registered by the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. SOURCE

The building itself if a modest brick structure topped off with a wooden spire. The top of the brick edifice features a gable/broken pediment type of architecture with a smaller pediment over the front entrance. Dual steps on either side rise up to the second elevation front entrance. On either end are two, long, vertical windows, rounded at the top, 5 over 3. The church while narrow in the front, extends far back along High Street.

There are several markers and monuments located at the church which offer a rich history and better understanding of the roll the church has played in the community. There is a handsome interpretive out front which tells the tale of the church's involvement with the Battle of Gettysburg. The marker is a small, yellowish, rectangular sign contained in a dark black, metal stand stuck into the paving bricks adjacent to the concrete sidewalk. This sign is part of a larger series of interpretives scattered about town. The sign of history reads:

The churches of Gettysburg were the first to offer their facilities to serve the needs of wounded soldiers borne from the battlefield on July 1st. Public buildings and many private homes followed the lead in showing care and mercy.

As soon as the churches opened their doors, ambulances arrived with their fightful cargo. The work to restore the mutilated bodies began, continuing around the clock. Postoperative care and food preparation fell mainly to the tireless efforts of women volunteers.

It was a scene of immense suffering! Agnes Barr, a member helping at the Presbyterian Church, recalled, "the shrieks and groans of the wounded were heart rending."

Churches continued to be used as hospitals after the armies departed, causing parishioners to forego normal services, prompting Sallie Broadhead to note in her diary, "we have had no Sundays...the churches have all been converted into hospitals."

The church also gained notoriety for the visitation of two American presidents. There are two markers on the brick wall out front to commemorate so sublime an event and they reads:

Abraham Lincoln attended services at this church on November 19, 1863, the day he dedicated the National Cemetery and delivered his Gettysburg Address. The pew he occupied has been retained in the sanctuary.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a member of this church February 1, 1961 to March 28, 1969. The pew he occupied has been retained in the sanctuary

There is also a monument of sorts which is a contributing structure to the historic district.

The Cavalry Corps Hospital Marker (MN415) is located on the front brick wall, lower level of the Church. The monument reads:

Army of the Potomac
Medical Department
Field Hospitals
Cavalry Corps

The Hospitals of the First Division Cavalry Corps were located June 30th in this church and other nearby buildings and fell into the hands of the Confederates on the evening of July 1st. The wounded of the Cavalry Commands were later cared for here and in the Hospitals of the Infantry Divisions.

Medical Director Cavalry Corps Surgeon Geo. L. Pancoast U.S. Volunteers
1st Division Surgeon Abner Hard 8th Illinois Cavalry
2nd Division Surgeon W. W. L. Phillips 1st N.J. Cavalry
3rd Division Surgeon Henry Capeheart 1st West Virginia Cavalry
Medical Officer in charge of the Corps Hospitals Surgeon W.H. Rulison 9th New York Cavalry.

The church faces Baltimore Street. Parking is available street side (High Street) next to the curb. Most of the parking is metered unless you park on a side street to same some coin . I visited this site on Monday, July 1, 2013 on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg close to 7 PM, EDT. As always, I used my trusty and oft abused Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.

Gettysburg Presbyterian Church 208 Baltimore Street Gettysburg, PA 17325

Name of War: United States Civil War

Type of Documentation: Historic Marker/Interpretive

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