Lately I’ve been studying the McPherson barn, and since I wrote about the McPherson property on Monday, I’m making today’s post about that particular farm as well. The McPherson barn is without doubt one of the iconic structures of the Gettysburg battlefield. Many battle enthusiasts likely know that Edward McPherson was not living at the farm during the battle and that farmer John Slentz and his family occupied the property. They were forced to evacuate when the blue and the gray collided.
The McPherson barn --- the house and other outbuildings have long since faded into the pages of history --- was constructed in the early 1800s. After seeing old photographs circa 1890s that showed an all-stone barn, I wondered why the modern reincarnation features half-stone and half-siding construction, but an older photograph taken in July 1863 shows a barn that looked very much as it does today. (I highly recommend the site “Gettysburg Daily” for this and other historic photographs).
The barn was a landmark for many soldiers. Though this is nowhere near a comprehensive list, some of the units that would have been situated around the barn were Hall’s Maine Battery (artillery pieces and a monument are now located across the Chambersburg Pike from the barn); the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry (the “Bucktails”), and the 14th Brooklyn Infantry. The Iron Brigade may or may not have been able to see the barn from their position in Herbst Woods, but it's probable that they did. Soldiers from Wisconsin, New York, and Mississippi could probably see it from their fight at the Railroad Cut. Considering that the battlefield had far fewer trees than it does today and no monuments or modern structures to obstruct one’s view, most of the soldiers who fought at McPherson’s Ridge probably saw the barn on that first day. Many got a closer view they would rather have avoided: The McPherson barn was also used as a field hospital.
PVT. SAMUEL COLEMAN DUVALL
Born November 24, 1841 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 21
(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray