Scenes of the Sherfy House and Farm

Mississippi Magnificence

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       The 18th Mississippi was assembled from the Central Western  Counties of the state in early June of 1861. They left Mississippi  on June 11th and arrived at Manassas Junction on June 18th. The regiment participated in 1st Manassas and was heavily bloodied at Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg,  Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

          The 18th came to Gettysburg, with 242 men led by Colonel Thomas Griffin, as part of William Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. On July 2nd they waited patiently on the Warfield’s Ridge tree line for several hours only 500 yards from their first target, the Emmitsburg Road. General Longstreet’s attack slowly developed as six separate Brigades moved to the east toward union positions. All during this time fire from the Union batteries at the Peach Orchard was directed at the Confederate guns just in front of the Mississippi Brigade with over shots taking a toll on the infantry in the woods behind. 

      At about 6:00 PM Barksdale’s Brigade was ordered forward. “Yelling like demons, black with smoke and lusting for hand-to-hand conflict, the enveloping mass of Confederates rushed the enclosures and speedily gained possession of them ....and a great gap was opened in the Federal line.” 

      The diograph shows the early stages of the attack with the 18th on left flank of Barksdale’s Brigade. General Barksdale is seen on the right. In the distance the 105th Pennsylvania is attempting to form a line just north of the Sherfy house, cannery and barn.  Just visible on the left is the roof of the Trostle Barn. Within the next hour the 18th would advance across the Emmitsburg road down into the Plum Run Valley north of the Trostle Farm. Barksdale’s charge, described as the “Most magnificent of the war” would push back more than 3 Union Brigades. Only after the death of Barksdale at Plum Run and more Union troops could stop the Mississippians. 

            The 18th eventually suffered 137 casualties during the charge. Due to the decisive Southern defeat on July 3rd, 31 of those wounded were left in the Gettysburg area following the Confederate retreat.  
 
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Sherfy's Wheatfield I

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               Joseph Sherfy’s farm gained historic notice as the location of the Peach Orchard.  Sherfy grew not only fruit but other crops including a field of wheat located south of  his barn. Though this wheat field is not nearly as famous as that of his neighbor’s, George Rose, it was the scene of desperate fighting.
The 114th Pennsylvania Regiment was one of several units at Gettysburg to utilize a variation of the Zouave uniform.  Sometimes know as Collis’s Zouaves, they were formed by a Philadelphia lawyer, who started the war as a volunteer private.
                     The 114th came to Gettysburg as part of Charles Graham’s Brigade of Sickles’ III corps. After Graham’s Brigade was ordered to the Peach Orchard area the 114th spent several hours near the Wentz house on the west side of the Emmitsburg Road. From 3:30 on they were subject to the artillery attack against the Union Batteries nearby.  Just after 6:00 PM when Barksdale’s brigade emerged out the wood to the west Captain George Randolph of Sickles’ Artillery Corps came up to Captain Bowen.  Lt. Colonel Cavada and General Graham were not available, and Randolph asked Bowen if the 114th could move to protect the several Union batteries, which were highly vulnerable to Barksdale’s attack.  Bowen agreed and ordered the 114th forward across the Emmitsburg road and into the wheat field south of the Sherfy Barn.  
                     In any event this was an aggressive move. Barksdale had 1600 men moving briskly toward the Peach Orchard and the 114th had only started the day with 259 men.  The encounter was brief and bloody. The 114th lost 95 men killed or wounded and due to their forward exposure 60 men were captured. One result of the 114th’s action is clear. Not one of the 40 federal cannon in the Peach Orchard area was captured there.  
                    The scene above is the left flank of the 114th as they cleared the Union Batteries. The Sherfy cannery, house and barn are visible in the background                
 
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Sherfy's Wheatfield II

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          Joseph Sherfy’s farm gained historic notice as the location of “the” Peach Orchard.  Sherfy grew not only fruit but other crops including a field of wheat located south of his barn. Though this wheat field is not nearly as famous as that of his neighbor’s, George Rose, it was the scene of desperate fighting.The 17th Mississippi was assembled from the northern Counties of the state in early June of 1861. They left Corinth on June 11th and arrived at Manassas Junction on June 17th. The regiment participated in 1st Manassas and was heavily bloodied at Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg,  Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

      The 17th came to Gettysburg, 468 strong, as part of William Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. On July 2nd they waited patiently on the Warfield’s Ridge tree line for several hours only 500 yards from their first target, the Emmitsburg Road.  General Longstreet’s attack slowly developed as six separate Brigades moved to the east toward union positions.  All during this time fire from the Union batteries at the Peach Orchard was directed at the Confederate guns just in front of the Mississippi Brigade with over shots taking a toll on the infantry in the woods behind.   

     At about 6:00 PM Barksdale’s Brigade was ordered forward. As the 17th cleared the woods and an orchard it became clear that one of those deadly batteries was fully exposed just moments away.  The 17th saw the opportunity and rushed forward, most likely in advance of the rest of the Brigade. With the 17th less than 200 yards away the red trousered 114th Pennsylvania filtered through the Union battery and made a desperate defense.  That moment is portrayed in the print above.The opposing regiments each took losses of more than 50%. Within minutes the Zouaves were forced back and the 17th continued on in one of the most devastating brigade actions of the war.                              

         The 17th eventually suffered 270 casualties during the charge. Due to the decisive Southern defeat on  July 3rd, 74 of those wounded were left in the Gettysburg area following the Confederate retreat.
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Chaos on the Emittsburg Road-$59.95

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         Questions still remain regarding the decision by General Daniel Sickles to occupy the Emmitsburg Road and the Sherfy Peach Orchard on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. This was certainly contrary to the wishes and orders of his Commander, General George Meade. Once the act was completed it could not be undone and a major portion of the Battle of Gettysburg on that Thursday afternoon would take place well away from where the Commanders on either side anticipated.  Once the Southern attack had started the Union had over 30 pieces of artillery in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard. Perhaps the closest to the enemy was John Bucklyn’s 1st Rhode Island Battery. At about 6:00 PM following 2 1/2 hours of dueling with their Confederate counterparts on Warfield Ridge Southern infantry rushed across the 500 yards of field in front of the Union Cannons. With only moments before the Confederates would arrive the 114th Pa. made a desperate charge to give the 1st Rhode Island some time to escape.
           Here the last element of the battery heads down the Emmitsburg road toward Trostle lane and safety. The left flank of the Confederate attack on the left just south of the Spangler house and barn. The Sherfy barn and cannery are to the near right and the little house of John Wentz is on the right. Wentz would remain in his cellar during the entire day’s battle.  Just visible on the right behind the Wentz house is the 72nd NY moving up in a futile attempt to hold back the Southern attack. Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade would overrun the entire area within the next 10 minutes.    


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Struggle in Sherfy's Barnyard

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When General William Barksdale’s four Mississippi regiments emerged from the woods 500 yards to the west of the Emmitsburg Road, Captain George Randolph of the III Corps Artillery came to Captain Edward Bowen of 114th Pa. Regiment, (the Lt. Colonel not then present) and implored him to save his batteries. Bowen ordered his men to advance across the Emmitsburg road and out into the fields to meet the enemy. The encounter was brief, and decisive. The fiery drive that Barksdale’s regiments had taken from their Commander was more than the Pennsylvanians could stop. The 114th suffered 155 casualties out of 259 soldiers.In the view above the men of the 17th and 21st Mississippi close in on the 114th Pa. On the far left is the flank of the 57th Pa. who fought near the Sherfy house and barn. Just behind the red panted Zouaves of the 114th Pa. is another Zouave unit, the 73rd NY. They were brought in to try to plug the gap near the Wentz House (center) but they found themselves screened by the 114th and had to hold their fire. As the 114th moved out the 73rd was also dispatched quickly by onrushing Confederates, who would continue a half mile farther with the wreckage of General Sickles’ III Corps in its wake. 

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The Magnificent Charge

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            General William Barksdale was a Lawyer/Congressman from Mississippi who rose quickly in the Southern Army to the rank of Brigadier. On the Second day at Gettysburg, Barksdale’s four Mississippi Regiments endured splinters and shot for several hours in Pitzer’s Wood. They emerged from the Wood following a spirited exhortation from Barksdale and made one of the most effective brigade attacks of the entire war. 

        Here we see the opening of the attack from an elevated position near Lane’s Battery. With fewer than 500 yards to reach the Union lines Barksdale’s Brigade was in close combat in less than five minutes. Trying to stop the attack are the 105th Pa. to the left of the brick Sherfy House, the 57th Pa. in the Farmyard and the 114th Pa. (Collis’s Zouaves) to the right. The Mississippi Regiments are the 18th directly to the front and then the 13th and 17th. The 21st Mississippi is out of sight to the right. Barksdale is hatless on his horse with his white hair flowing. 

       Behind the Zouaves is the small log house of John Wentz. Wentz refused to leave his home when it became the center of nearly 40 Union Cannons. He remained there during 3 ½ hours of constant shelling. Amazingly the Ordnance Sergeant of one of the Confederate batteries focused directly on the area, was Henry Wentz, son of John Wentz. When the battle ended Henry ran into the house and found his father sleeping in the cellar. 

        Barksdale’s Brigade swept over two full Union Brigades and almost a mile of contested terrain, breaking the Union line in half. Only timely reinforcements and sheer exhaustion stopped the Brigade. As Barksdale attempted to rally his men further he was shot from his horse near Plum Run and died the next day in a Union Hospital.


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The Wildcat Advance

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The 105th Pennsylvania Volunteer regiment was recruited out of Jefferson and several other western Pennsylvania counties. Since this was oil country they were dubbed the “Wild Cats. ” They reported to the Army of the Potomac in September 1861 and fought hard in the 1862 Peninsula campaign and taking heavy losses at Fair Oaks. At Gettysburg on July 2nd 1863 the 105th was part of Daniel Sickles III Corps, placed forward in the vicinity of the Sherfy House on the Emmitsburg Pike.
 Colonel Calvin Craig’s official report describes the action. “ At 4 p.m. we again moved forward near the brick house and immediately in its rear. At this time I noticed the enemy’s infantry advancing from the woods on the left of the house and in its rear, and seeing that I could do nothing in the position I then occupied (in the rear of the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers), and that I must necessarily suffer severely, I ordered the regiment forward to fill a vacancy on the right of the Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the front line and a little beyond the Emmitsburg road. Having gained this position, the fire from the enemy being very severe, we immediately opened fire.” Soon after the Union regiments to the south of the 105th gave way to the attack of Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade. The 105th again reformed, facing south down the Pike and fired on the wheeling Southern troops. Barksdale’s charge was delayed but not ready to be stemmed and the 105th pulled back with heavy losses.
 Fourteen officers out of 17 combatants were either killed or wounded, and 117 men out of 257 were either killed, wounded, or missing.
 Here we see the 105th forming its line on the west side of the Emmitsburg Pike. Barksdale’s Brigade is nearly halfway across the 500 yards of open space between the wooded Seminary Ridge and the Union Line. To the left is the Sherfy house and cannery and in background is the Snyder house which was flanked by Confederate Artillery.


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Just South of the Sherfy Farm is the Spangler Farm

Wilcox's Brigade Attacks

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The Confederate attack on the second day at Gettysburg commenced with two divisions of Longstreet’s Corps.  Starting on the south, brigade by brigade moved against the Union position en echelon.  The deliberate pacing of such an attack threatens the enemy with a breakthrough at the point of attack and causes him to shift forces to hold the breach.  Eventually the attacker finds a point that is weaker and the true breakthrough occurs. Longstreet’s eight brigades spent more than two hours setting up this scenario. Next in line was A.P Hills 2nd Corps with the Wilcox’s brigade leading the way.
                              Cadmus Wilcox was born in North Carolina and West Point classmate of George McClellan and Stonewall Jackson. At Gettysburg he brought four Alabama regiments with over 1700 men.   After General William Barksdale began his epic charge Wilcox moved out a little after 6 PM. Initially his southernmost regiment, the 8th Alabama became separated.    The center of brigade aimed directly at the Klingle farm on the east side of the Emmitsburg road. There they were opposed by Carr’s Brigade and Seeley’s Artillery battery.  As the Alabama brigade moved across the fields of the Spangler’s Farm Barksdale’s brigade swung left and moved up the Union line. This created an untenable salient at the Klingle house. Carr’s brigade, threatened in two directions, fell back quickly.
                         The diograph shows from left to right the 14th , 11th and 10th Alabama regiments just as they reach the Emmitsburg road. Barksdale’s forces are at a nearly right angle to the south. In the center the 5th and 11th New Jersey are firing their last organized volleys on either side of the Klingle house. On the left is the Rogers house,with the Trostle house and barn just visible behind the Klingle buildings.  Off to the right is the Sherfy house and just visible in the center distance is the 21st Mississippi firing upon Bigelow’s Battery in the Trostle orchard.  
                         At this moment Union forces were in retreat from the Wheatfield to the Codori Farm. Wilcox’s Alabamans now rejoined by the 8th continued on heading for Cemetery Ridge. As they passed across the low rough ground that was the source of Plum Run they were stunned by the fierce attack of the 1st Minnesota.  


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Wilcox Crosses the Spanger Farm

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In 1862 Henry Spangler, who owned a farm on the Baltimore Pike  purchased a house and farm located 400 yards west of the Emmitsburg Pike, a mile south of Gettysburg.  Originally built in 1822 by Spangler’s Father in law, George Plank, the house was also just a few hundred yard east of what would become the Confederate Line on July 2nd and 3rd 1863. 

Cadmus Wilcox’s Brigade, consisting of five Alabama regiments was a battle tested and cohesive unit. The brigade had performed with distinction at Chancellorsville and came to Gettysburg as part of Anderson’s Division with over 1700 effective troops.  Early on July 2nd Wilcox was ordered to form the right flank of the Confederate army and posted to the area near the Spangler Farm. Much of the area was below the view of Union forces on Cemetery Ridge.  At mid-day the 10th and 11th Alabama had a brief but sharp encounter with Federal troops in Pitzer’s Wood.  That firefight was major influence in General Sickles’ ill-advised decision to move his line forward. 

Later in the afternoon Wilcox joined Longstreet’s eight brigades in precise echelon sequence.  Here we see the 14th Alabama crossing the yard of the Spangler house. In view behind are the 11th Alabama just south of Spangler Lane and the 10th Alabama further south. Also to the south is the Staub house and barn and smoke from confederate batteries located on Warfield ridge. 

          Wilcox’s attack overwhelmed the Union forces on the Emmitsburg Pike.  When the Alabamans  pushed forward into the Plum Run swale they faced the near suicidal charge of the 1st Minnesota. Combined with a lack of support from Anderson’s other Brigade the attack stalled and  the Brigade was forced back across the Pike. With further losses suffered during an ill fated supporting move the next day the brigade suffered more than 40% casualties during the 3 day battle. 

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