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 Posted: Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 04:50 pm
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javal1
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I'm starting this thread as a follow-up from a previous thread.

The GB almshouse sat behind Barlow's Knoll. Many people have the idea that the almshouse was a single building. In fact, there were 13 or so buildings in the complex - some major structuires, others just outbuildings. Few photo's exist. The below photo can be found in Joe Frassanito's excellent "Early Photography of Gettysburg". The original is in the park archives. If I have my bearings correct, the road in the foreground is the Old Harrisburg Pike. The trees in the left background would be near the almshouse cemetery along what we know as Howard Ave. That would place Barlow's Knoll about where you can just see the top of the tree above the roof of the building in the foreground. I believe the photo is from the 1880's, and all the building seen were part of the almshouse complex::



In 1960, a study of the almshouse barn was done. Below is a transcription:

Memorandum for the Files   April 5 1960
Park Historian Harry W. Pfanz

Alms House Barn

Regional Architect Lawrence B. Coryell has recently examined the Alms House
Barn and has offered the comments below regarding its wartime appearance.

At the time of the battle, the barn was approximately thirty (30) feet
shorter than it is today. An addition was made to its northeastern end at
about the turn of the century. Therefore, instead of its present measurement
of 108 feet, the wartime structure was approximately seventy (70) feet in
length.

The northeastern end of the war period structure was brick and probably was
almost identical in appearance to the southwestern end of the barn as it
appears today. The lower portion of this wall exists today as a partition
and contains a stable doorway near its western corner and two windows spaced
between the door and the western edge of the wall. These windows were barred
and identical with those still to be seen in the southwestern end of the
barn.

Each end of the barn was sheltered by eaves, probably similar to those on
the Trostle barn. The overhang above the southwestern wall was apparently
removed many years ago.

The northwestern side of the barn was altered to conform with the new
addition. This resulted in an additional wagon entrance into the enlarged
mow and a correspondingly broadened ramp. The war period barn contained one
wagon door into the mow--this being on the right of the present mow. As is
the case in similarly designed barns, this mow door was set back to give it
necessary height and was thus flanked by the projecting side of the barn.
The projection on the left of the door was, of course, removed when the mow
was lengthened and the ramp widened.

The lean-to located to the right of the present ramp is of somewhat recent
construction and would not have been present at the time of the battle.
Foundation stones visible inside this lean-to indicate that the ramp
probably sloped off to the side as well as the front.

Harry W. Pfanz
Park Historian



Just starting to go through all my documents for the first time in a decade. I'll post more later....



 Posted: Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 06:28 pm
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pamc153PA
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Joe,

I go away for a couple hours, and you've already posted! Cool, especially the photo.

Pam



 Posted: Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 07:56 pm
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PvtClewell
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Thanks, Joe

Makes me wish those buildings were still in existence. How dramatically it changes this portion of the battlefield without them. I can also understand how that complex of buildings could have been used as a hospital site. Next time I'm wandering around Barlow's Knoll, I'll have to keep a mental image of those buildings in my mind.

Pam,

Do you suppose Pvt. Rothrock was brought here? Even if he wasn't, the possibility certainly makes it a lot more personal now, doesn't it? Even though they were in different companies, it also makes me wonder if Clewell and Rothrock crossed paths. Or even Isemoyer.



 Posted: Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 12:47 am
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pamc153PA
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Pvt.,

It would seem more likely that at least shortly after he was wounded, Pvt. Rothrock would have been taken someplace close to Barlow's Knoll, and the almshouse sure fits that. It would sure be great to be able to know for sure, but how in the world could you ever do that?

I would like to think that Rothrock, Clewell and Isemoyer might have been at least familiar to one another. Especially since the 153rd went through such a tough, humiliating time at Chancellorsville (thanks to Hooker), they had a reason to stick together. They also came from the same area of PA, from families that had been in that area for generations (at least the Rothrocks had). Or maybe it's me thinking that because of all OUR coincidences!

I checked out the website you gave a couple posts back, about the Spangler farm. Now it really makes me want to see it. I'd never gone to that site before, and it was full of interesting info, besides the 11th Corps stuff. Thanks!

Pam

 



 Posted: Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 01:19 am
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javal1
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In case you're not aware, we have a pretty good account of the Barlow's Knoll fighting, written by a participant, on the website. Here's the link.



 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 01:24 am
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pamc153PA
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Joe,

I had some time to read the description on the link you gave. I hadn't read it before, and I found it interesting, especially that Fischer found it odd and frustrating that Steinwehr's First Division wasn't placed where it would have helped the flank, and that he mentions what happened at Chancellorsville a month before. I would love to know what was going through command's mind, especially Howard or Barlow.

Have you had a chance to see where the 153PA was "in the air" at Chancellorsville, by any chance?

Pvt,

Have you been to Chancellorsville?

Hope you guys had a good 4th!

Pam 



 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 12:25 pm
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PvtClewell
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Pam,

I have been to Chancellorsville a number of times and have traveled Jackson's flank march route at least three times. I have not investigated the area where the 153rd was posted, even though it's just off the Orange Turnpike near the Wilderness Church. It's a pretty heavily wooded area and not particularly close to the visitors' center. But I've driven the turnpike while returning from my flank march excursions and figure I know approximately where the 153rd was located. No markers or monuments that I know of.

From what I've read, the boys of the 153rd performed well, given their circumstances. Stephen Sears writes: "In the woods north of the road Von Gilsa's only regiments facing west, the 54th New York and the 153rd Pennsylvania, managed to stand a few minutes longer. 'I fired into the thicket. others did likewise, fired and reloaded again,' Pennsylvanian Francis Stofflet wrote in his diary. Doles rapidly shifted the 21st Georgia to turn this flank. 'We were ordered forward and the boys all gave a few keen yells and they intended to have some yankee crackers before they slept that night,' Lieutenant Thomas Hightower of the 21st Georgia told his fiancee.

"With that the New Yorkers on the threatened flank broke and went to the rear. The 153rd Pennsylvania was a nine-month regiment that had never been in battle before, and now the troops on both sides of it were gone, and the order was passed to save themselves.

"...In just 10 mimutes Von Gilsa had lost 264 men, half of whom were captured..."

I love the Chancellorsville battlefield, but it's severely pressured by development. Do you know there's a stoplight at the intersection of the Orange Turnpike and the Orange Plank Road, where the remains of the Chancellor House are? Been there for a few years now. And encroachment has swallowed Salem Church. It's a sad thing.

Have you been to Chancellorsville?



 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 02:58 pm
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javal1
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Pam -

Found this in the vertical files at GNMP years ago. It should help you visualize. As Pvt. said, the area is heavily wooded today, and traffic in the area can get a little nuts. As for Barlow - and I stress this is my opinion only - I despise him. When you read about him, you find he really hated the German-American troops under his command. I don't think it's a coincidence that the 153rd was used as cannon fodder in both of their two major battles. Others will strongly disagree....




 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 03:25 pm
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TimK
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Excuse me as I wedge my way into this conversation. My ancestors were mining for silver in the mountains near Aspen and Leadville in Colorado during the CW years. I had no relatives (that I know of) that participated in the CW.

I feel compelled to respond to Pvt.'s remarks about the development happening around Chancellorsville. It is very frustrating to travel 2000 miles to see, study, and feel the land in this area, only to be given the one finger salute trying to get to Salem Church or drive the speed limit in the battlefields. If I'm not driving 65 down the Orange Turnpike, the horns blare. It is a beautiful area screaming with historical significance for every American. As I read your posts about where your ancestors were, the encroaching sprawl only frustrates me more.

I guess I felt like ranting this morning. Please excuse me. I suppose I'll write another check to the CWPT to calm me down.

Carry on all. I enjoy reading about how personal this is to most of you.

Tim



 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 04:40 pm
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PvtClewell
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Joe,

Nice map. Where do you dig up this stuff?

Plus, I share your sentiments about Barlow. If he wasn't so xenophobic about the Germans under his command, I might have more respect for him. Most of the 1st Division Germans despised him. Give me Ames anytime.

Tim,

Rant on. I empathize. I actually have a baseball hat from the CWPT that says 'I helped save Chancellorsville' for a contribution I made several years ago. I wear it when I paint houses now. It's a good conversation starter.



 Posted: Sat Jul 5th, 2008 05:41 pm
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pamc153PA
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Pvt.,

Yes, I've been to Chancellorsville a few times, the first in 1999 and the last 4 years ago. I think that battlefield edges out Gettysburg for me ( at least by a bit!). I loved it from the first time (when I drove Jackson's Flank attack route without being able to see houses through the trees), especially the more deserted parts like Catherine Furnace. I did try to find the 153rd position, but unhappily wasn't able to. I don't recall a light at Chancellors House the last time--I guess that's in the name of "progress"?! Don't get me started on THAT!

Joe,

Thanks for the map! And I totally agree with you (and Pvt.) about Barlow--I guess I was just hedging to see what you guys thought since he can be a rather, uh, contentious subject for some. Anti-German sentiment as you know was rampant at the time (just like many new immigrant groups were victims of), but Barlow really personified that hate. Unfortunately for our 153rd ancestors, it affected not just their ability to get a job or rent land, but their very lives on the battlefield, thanks to commanders like Barlow. Is there anything in Barlow's background that you know of that would have created that hatred?

Tim,

I'm in total agreement about "sprawl" around Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, etc. I'm the kind of person who likes to walk the fields and try to soak the "feeling" in, but that's impossible to do with traffic whizzing by and housing developments to the left, right and front. Rant all you want--you have some like-minded folks here!

Pam

 

 



 Posted: Sat Jul 12th, 2008 03:27 pm
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pamc153PA
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Joe,

I was looking for more info on--guess what??--the 153PA while I had time to browse the net. Found the story (which I'm sure you're familiar with) about First Lt. Bayard Wilkeson of Battery G 4th US Artillery on Barlow's Knoll and how he cut off his own mangled leg with a pocketknife on the porch of the almshouse. Do you think this is true? In your almshouse research, were you ever able to find anything about this interesting tidbit? It makes for a good story, especially since the article then says he gave his canteen of water to another soldier as his last dying act.

Pam



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