Archaeological Dig at the Riggs House Near Lee's Headquarters

LoyaltyOfDogs

First Sergeant
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Gettysburg area
#1
Archaeology students from Gettysburg College and volunteers from the Adams County Historical Society are completing an initial dig at an historic home site across Buford Avenue from the Mary Thompson House (Lee's Headquarters), according to a report in today's Gettysburg Times newspaper.

At the time of the battle, the site was the location of the house where wounded citizen soldier John Burns collapsed at the cellar door after making his way back from the battlefield. The house, owned by Casper Dustman, was rented by the family of Alexander Riggs but was unoccupied at the time, since the Riggses had left in advance of the fighting. The article says that according to Tim Smith of the Historical Society, Dustman reportedly found Burns at the property on July 2.

The house was demolished in the 1950s, and its location was verified after the Civil War Trust acquired the property in 2015 and conducted a radar scan. Since the dig began in August, the team members have uncovered the foundation of the house and a brick patio. They've found pieces of pottery, including some dated to 1800-1820, a Victorian-era woman's comb, and buttons. The artifacts will be kept by the Civil War Trust, and some may be exhibited at the College or at Lee's headquarters.

The Adams County Historical Society held a public tour on Wednesday (which I sadly missed). The Facebook page notes that although the site is being closed this week at the end of the current dig, "there may be future excavations!"
 

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LoyaltyOfDogs

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
1,283
Location
Gettysburg area
#4
Very interesting. Thanks for posting. Can you post the article?
You're welcome, @8thFlorida. I'm sorry I don't have rights to share it. It's behind a pay wall and available only to on-line subscribers. But it's a brief article not much longer than my summary. Among the few details I didn't include:
  • The students are members of the Archaeology of Pennsylvania class taught by Professor Ben Luley.

  • Participants who spoke with the reporter included Andrew Dalton, a history student at the College, who said it's hoped that the dig would be "the first of many projects." I assume he meant other projects at the site. (He may be familiar to CWT members as the author of "Beyond the Run: The Emanuel Harmon Farm at Gettysburg," which he published as a high school student.)
The other individual quoted most often in the article was Tim Smith, whose books include "John Burns, The Hero of Gettysburg." The book wasn't referenced in the article, but it may contain additional information about Burns's connection to the Riggs House.

The best way to keep up on future work at the site may be to follow the Historical Society's Facebook page. (If I had done so earlier, I would have known about the public tour. :banghead:)
 

Tom Elmore

Sergeant Major
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#9
(Letter of Sergeant A. Pomeroy, 24th Michigan, dated 26 July 1863) Your brother [Winfield Scott Safford] was buried in an orchard owned by Mr. Dustman on the Chambersburg Road, near the Theological Seminary. The man is a poor man and did not want to have him buried on his place, but I told him I thought his friends would be after his body.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
341
Location
Mobile, AL
#11
Interesting that they found items dating up to the 40's when the house was demolished. Future archeologists will be sorely disappointed 150 years from now when all they dig up from our yards are Budweiser cans, tons of plastic wrap and empty tubes of dried caulk. A sad commentary on how much we've changed.
 



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