Battlefield Intelligence Gleaned from the Catholic Sisters of Charity

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
On the morning of July 5, a detail of the Twelfth and Fifth Pennsylvania Reserves was sent westward from the summit of Big Round Top to determine the location of the Confederates. They cautiously passed the stone wall at the base of the hill and proceeded through the woods where they encountered a sleeping Georgian, no doubt one of the last battlefield captures not associated with the field hospitals. When the detail reached the Emmitsburg road, a conveyance moving toward Gettysburg pulled up. The occupants were the Sisters of Charity, who advised that the Confederates were in full retreat and miles away. Having obtained the necessary intelligence, the detail returned to Big Round Top to report.

Earlier that morning, following Mass at the female St. Joseph Institute (or College) near Emmitsburg, the Right Reverend James F. Burlando and a dozen or so Sisters (or Daughters) of Charity departed to render aid to the wounded at Gettysburg. They brought baskets filled with supplies, including bandages, medicines and provisions. There is little doubt that this was the group that encountered the Federal detail from Big Round Top and gave news of the enemy retreat, perhaps obtained from passing infantrymen, cavalrymen or even an escaped soldier from the group being escorted by the Confederates back to Virginia.

The Sisters were assigned to several field hospitals in an around Gettysburg, including at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Methodist Church, St. Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church and the Adams County Courthouse. More would follow from Emmitsburg the following day, July 6. The Sisters were also prominent at the General Hospital in Frederick, Maryland and at the Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia.

Principal sources:

-History of the Twelfth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, by Martin D. Hardin, New York: published by the author, 1890, p. 156.

-Jeane Heimberger Candido, Sisters and Nuns Who Were Nurses During the Civil War, Blue & Gray Magazine, October 1999.

-The Sisters and the Soldiers, by Virginia Walcott Beauchamp, DePaul University Libraries, Fall 1986, vol. 7, issue 2, pp. 346, 356, 359.
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Location
Hoover, Alabama
On the morning of July 5, a detail of the Twelfth and Fifth Pennsylvania Reserves was sent westward from the summit of Big Round Top to determine the location of the Confederates. They cautiously passed the stone wall at the base of the hill and proceeded through the woods where they encountered a sleeping Georgian, no doubt one of the last battlefield captures not associated with the field hospitals. When the detail reached the Emmitsburg road, a conveyance moving toward Gettysburg pulled up. The occupants were the Sisters of Charity, who advised that the Confederates were in full retreat and miles away. Having obtained the necessary intelligence, the detail returned to Big Round Top to report.

Earlier that morning, following Mass at the female St. Joseph Institute (or College) near Emmitsburg, the Right Reverend James F. Burlando and a dozen or so Sisters (or Daughters) of Charity departed to render aid to the wounded at Gettysburg. They brought baskets filled with supplies, including bandages, medicines and provisions. There is little doubt that this was the group that encountered the Federal detail from Big Round Top and gave news of the enemy retreat, perhaps obtained from passing infantrymen, cavalrymen or even an escaped soldier from the group being escorted by the Confederates back to Virginia.

The Sisters were assigned to several field hospitals in an around Gettysburg, including at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Methodist Church, St. Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church and the Adams County Courthouse. More would follow from Emmitsburg the following day, July 6. The Sisters were also prominent at the General Hospital in Frederick, Maryland and at the Satterlee General Hospital in Philadelphia.

Principal sources:

-History of the Twelfth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, by Martin D. Hardin, New York: published by the author, 1890, p. 156.

-Jeane Heimberger Candido, Sisters and Nuns Who Were Nurses During the Civil War, Blue & Gray Magazine, October 1999.

-The Sisters and the Soldiers, by Virginia Walcott Beauchamp, DePaul University Libraries, Fall 1986, vol. 7, issue 2, pp. 346, 356, 359.
The Sister's of Charity were based at what is now the location of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg.
 

neyankee61

Private
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
On the night of July 1 Col Regis DeTrobriand's and Col George Burling's brigades, III Corps, were spread out at Emmittsburg. DeTrobriand's brigade was encamped on the grounds of St Joseph's Convent. He later wrote a very engaging account of his visit with the nuns in his "Four Years with the Army of the Potomac"
 
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