One of the Confederate regiments in which I’ve always been most interested is the 26TH North Carolina Infantry, and I’d long wanted to visit Herr Tavern which North Carolinians and Virginians used as a temporary field hospital after the first day’s fight. (Some believe it was an aid station instead). I didn’t think this past trip would allow any extra time to seek it out, yet to my surprise, as we drove out to Biglerville to find that elusive Round Barn, Chambersburg Pike / Route 30 took us right past Herr Tavern. I was probably more excited than I should have been. But that’s a Civil War buff for you. :-)
Herr Tavern was constructed in 1815, not by a Herr, but by a Sweeney. (One branch of the Sweeney family occupied what is now known as the Farnsworth House during the battle). The tavern and inn became known as Herr’s Tavern in the late 1820s. Rumors and legends abound concerning this old place, both good and bad. Many whispered at the time that counterfeiting was being undertaken in the shadows of the basement with Mr. Herr’s knowledge, but at least the man in question had a compassionate side: Former slaves seeking freedom found his tavern a welcoming stopover on the Underground Railroad.
It wasn’t so welcoming to the Confederates who converted it into a hospital in July 1863. Gen. Heth’s troops, including the 26TH North Carolina which had lost so many men on the first day of battle while fighting at McPherson’s Ridge and Herbst Woods, used Herr Tavern to care for the wounded. A few soldiers were buried here and were presumably re-interred at a later date. Though other individuals have owned the tavern over time, it remains “Herr Tavern” due to its association at the time of the battle.
PVT. HOCKADAY BRISTER
Co. I, 13TH Mississippi Infantry
Born May 02, 1840 --- Died July 13, 1863 at age 23
He was taken prisoner and later succumbed to his injuries on the 13TH of July. Sadly, he wasn’t the only family member to die in the war. Of the six Brister brothers who fought, only three saw Mississippi again . . . Hack’s brother William died in a POW camp in Illinois and his brother Samuel lost his life at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Pvt. Hockaday Brister is buried at Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery in the “Gettysburg Dead” section.
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