Confederate Requisitions/Confiscations from Civilians near Gettysburg

Tom Elmore

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Requisitioning or impressment with an issued receipt was the usual method used by Confederate army quartermasters to gather livestock, forage and other items of military value from area farms, while outright confiscations (pillaging) typically occurred when the owner or tenant had vacated the premises.
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One example of a receipt read as follows: “Impressed from Henry Wisler eighteen bushels of oats and eight bushels of corn to be paid at market value – July 2nd 1863. J. S. Reid, Major and QMr. Davis Brigade, Confederate States. Cooper, Capt., A.Q.Mr. 42nd Miss. Regt., Davis Brigade C.S.A.” (America’s Civil War, July 2014, vol. 27, no. 3, Leesburg, VA: Weider History Group, Inc.) [Major J. S. Reid was brigade quartermaster for Brig. Gen. Joseph Davis’s brigade, while Captain Lunsford Pitt Cooper was the regimental quartermaster of the 42nd Mississippi.]

The following list is but a fraction of the owners and tenants who were impacted by the invasion of Adams County, Pennsylvania. Those whose property was along a march route, or directly occupied by the enemy, or else served as a field hospital, suffered the most. But every local resident was at some risk, because the Confederates thoroughly scoured the area for up to four days straight. Nor were residents entirely safe from depredations committed by their own – Federal – army.

The highlighted names appear on the attached 1858 map of Adams County. Unless otherwise indicated, the information is derived from civilian damage claims available at the Adams County Historical Society.

Alms House, Cumberland Township: 1 wagon from wagon shed.

Joseph Bayly, Cumberland Township: 4 head of cattle (1 steer, 1 bull, 2 cows), 3 horses and 11 sheep were taken on July 3 (1 horse that was stabled in Gettysburg disappeared on July 1).

Christian Benner, Straban Township, near Culp’s Hill: 5 horses, chickens, flour, meat, and fields of wheat, grass and oats were trodden down. (Oliver F. Benner, son of Christian Benner, Battlefield Adventures)

Philip Bittinger, Butler Township: 2 horses taken on July 3.

John Boyer, Butler Township: 2 horses were taken by Rodes’ men at 11 p.m. on July 1; also lost hay, oats, hams and saddles taken earlier in the day by Rodes’ division as it passed his residence on the way to Gettysburg.

Christian Byers, Highland Township: His barn and part of the house were used as a hospital for five weeks, and confiscated cattle were pastured in his fields. Also lost 1 mare, 1 colt, cattle, 1 wagon, hay, fence rails, and boards knocked off the barn.

John Bolen, Tyrone Township, near Heidlersburg: 1 bull, 1 heifer, 640 new rails and gears. His oat field was destroyed when the rebels pastured 130 cattle in it for one day and night, and two clover fields were destroyed by 200 rebel cattle in it on June 30. [Rodes’ division camped near Heidlersburg on the night of June 30.]

Thomas E. Cook, Menallen Township: 3 heifers were taken July 2 by a rebel officer accompanied by a squad of men. The same group returned on July 3 and took the bay mare (Hunter Morgan) from the field. Another horse was taken but subsequently recovered by Boyd’s cavalry.

Tobias R. Cover, Franklin Township, Cashtown: 1 horse and 1 wagon.

John Cunningham, Freedom Township: Barn was used as a hospital. Lost 12 barrels of flour, 5 cords of wood, 1 spring wagon.

John H. Eckert, tenant farmer, Straban Township: 1 mare taken June 26 by Early’s men, afterwards lost 5 sheep, 1 hog, 8 hams, 3 shoulders, hay, half the wheat crop was destroyed. The dwelling house (marked P. Trostle) was burned on July 2, by carelessness of the rebels [the family was away at the time and it was occupied by pioneers from Johnson’s division].

James Gallagher, living on the farm of Maria Fidler, Tyrone Township: 1 bay horse, 1 bay mare were taken by Rodes’ men on July 1.

Jacob Gardner, Butler Township: 1 bull, 1 2-horse spring wagon taken by Ewell’s forces July 1.

John and Sarah Ann Hamilton, Cumberland Township: Barn and grounds used as a hospital. Lost 2 horses, flour, shelled corn, hay and 8 acres of wheat, blacksmith tools and iron from his shop, tablecloths, hand towels, shawls, sheets, coffee, sugar, knives, forks, dishes, copper kettles, bags and side saddles. (Greg Coco, A Vast Sea of Misery)

Abraham Lentz, Franklin Township: 1 ton of hay taken from a stable in Cashtown.

Jacob Mickley, Franklin Township: Items taken from his farm and his hotel in Cashtown.

David Mundorff, Franklin Township: 1 buggy taken on July 4 – it was afterwards recovered (in a damaged condition) in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

Conrad Myers, Mummasburg: 1 young bay mare taken from Miller’s stable in Mummasburg.

Professor Schmucker of the Lutheran Seminary: Personal library destroyed, furniture ruined, valuables taken, but the piano was untouched.

Andrew Weikert, Highland Township (west of Marsh Creek): Barn used as a hospital; lost 5 horned cattle, 25 chickens, 2 wagons, 1 barrel of flour, wheat, corn, oats, hay, potatoes, 15 cords of wood, horse gear, saddles, bridles and fencing.

Henry Wisler, Butler Township: 18 bushels of oats, 8 bushels of corn, impressed by Major James S. Reid, Quartermaster of Davis’ brigade on July 2. (America’s Civil War, July 2014, vol. 27, no. 3)

Mary Jane Williams (Cashman), occupied the gate house on the York turnpike, Straban Township: 20 chickens, hams, coverlet, towels, bed clothing, shawls, silk dress, queensware, tinware, tablewear and vinegar.

George Wolf, Straban Township: 10 milk cows, 4 young cattle, 1 horse, hay.
 

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Rhea Cole

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It seems to me that having your property taken in exchange for a worthless piece of paper or pillaged is a distinction without difference. At least if your goods were taken by the Union army there was some hope of filing a successful claim & receiving compensation.

Not mentioned on this list are the people of color who were kidnapped by Lee's men & taken into slavery.
 
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Andersonh1

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Not mentioned on this list are the people of color who were kidnapped by Lee's men & taken into slavery.

They were not anyone's property and would not appear on the requisition list. That seems obvious. Let's stay on topic and not turn this thread into a debate about kidnapping.

@Tom Elmore, I'm guessing that since these items appear on a list of damage claims that these people were never compensated by either the Union or the Confederate Army for what was taken?
 
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Curious who were the claims made to, and in the case of civilians absent...how could they know who took what?

The claim that really has me questioning is the Christian Byers claim, as wasn't aware the Confederate army was at Gettysburg for five weeks...it seems it would be a claim against federal army, for his barn and house

A cool study I'm not aware of being done, would be look requisition's and losses by civilians within say a 20-25 mile radius of a major battle to both armies to show the effect of war on civilians.
 

CowCavalry

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At least if your goods were taken by the Union army there was some hope of filing a successful claim & receiving compensation.
So southerners whose farms, homes, and property were looted or destroyed by Union forces operating in the vicinity could file a claim and expect to receive compensation from the US govt?
 
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Rhea Cole

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So southerners whose farms, homes, and property was looted or destroyed by Union forces operating in the vicinity could file a claim and expect to receive compensation from the US govt?
Isn't this a thread about AofNV requisitions in Pennsylvania? So, southerners whose farms etc, are subjects for another thread that you should start & we will discuss it there.
 

CowCavalry

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Isn't this a thread about AofNV requisitions in Pennsylvania? So, southerners whose farms etc, are subjects for another thread that you should start & we will discuss it there.
Again, you were the one who stated that civilians who had their possessions, shall we say, requisitioned by the Union forces had a chance of getting compensated. I was just seeking clarity as to exactly what civilians you were referring to.
 

James N.

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So southerners whose farms, homes, and property were looted or destroyed by Union forces operating in the vicinity could file a claim and expect to receive compensation from the US govt?
Indeed, Unionist residents of the South who suffered losses at the hands of Federal troops could and often did file claims in an attempt to recover their losses, though it was often difficult for them to prove their loyalty and therefore "deserve" reimbursement. Just one such example was the widow of the builder of the Natchez, Mississippi estate Longwood who was a Northerner owing large tracts of land across the Mississippi River in Louisiana that had been plundered by Union troops during the Vicksburg Campaign.
 

Gettysburg Guide #154

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It seems that the Federal Government rarely paid claims for battle damage. One extreme example is the William Bliss Farm, located just southwest of the town of Gettysburg between the lines of the two armies on July 2 and 3. The barn and farm house were burned by Union troops on the orders of Union General Alexander Hays, commanding Third Division, Second Corps. Bliss first claimed $1,256.08 in lost property. With the claim still unsatisfied in 1865, and continued financial difficulty, he sold the farm for $1,000 to his neighbor, Nicholas Codori. Bliss returned to upstate New York, form whence he had moved prior to the war. Bliss resubmitted a claim seeking compensation of $3,256.05. In addition to the original claim for lost personal property, he also claimed the loss of the house and barn of $1,700, lost fencing for $240, and $60 for lost hay and grain. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved of the claim, but when forwarded to the federal authorities, it was not acted upon. The Bliss descendants continued to pursue the claim until 1902, at which time the Theodore Roosevelt administration ruled that the government was not liable for damages resulting from "necessary military operations".

Here I need to give credit to my brother Guide, John Archer, for his work "Fury on the Bliss Farm at Gettysburg".
 

CowCavalry

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Indeed, Unionist residents of the South who suffered losses at the hands of Federal troops could and often did file claims in an attempt to recover their losses, though it was often difficult for them to prove their loyalty and therefore "deserve" reimbursement. Just one such example was the widow of the builder of the Natchez, Mississippi estate Longwood who was a Northerner owing large tracts of land across the Mississippi River in Louisiana that had been plundered by Union troops during the Vicksburg Campaign.
Thank you; so invading forces of the US took or destroyed what they liked from Southerners at will, while the invading AONV was under orders from its commanding General to requisition from the locals what was needed and offer payment, the only payment available to them to offer, and if the party refused, their name and the type and quantity of supplies were to be noted for payment at a future date. I am sure, that had the outcome been different, Lee would have attempted to see these payments made.
 
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LisaJ

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Though he did not mention requisitions, one of my ancestors was at Gettysburg, and wrote home about how the army procured food. He was in the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry (the old Hampton Legion Cavalry). The letter was written after the 2nd SCC spent several weeks moving through Maryland and Pennsylvania, including the Battle of Gettysburg.

Thomas Jeffers wrote to his sister on 17 July 1863:
"The general impression is that we have not gained a great deal by our excursion into Maryland and Pennsylvania and I myself am of the opinion that but very little good will result from it. The citizens of Pennsylvania I suppose however mostly through policy treated our Soldiers with much kindness, furnishing them with something to eat etc. While the generality of our men behaved exceedingly well towards them, in some cases their houses were sacked and nearly everything they possessed taken from them. We took a large number of Horses but the greater portion of them were not fit for Cavalry service and many of them gave out very soon."
 

Rhea Cole

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It seems that the Federal Government rarely paid claims for battle damage. One extreme example is the William Bliss Farm, located just southwest of the town of Gettysburg between the lines of the two armies on July 2 and 3. The barn and farm house were burned by Union troops on the orders of Union General Alexander Hays, commanding Third Division, Second Corps. Bliss first claimed $1,256.08 in lost property. With the claim still unsatisfied in 1865, and continued financial difficulty, he sold the farm for $1,000 to his neighbor, Nicholas Codori. Bliss returned to upstate New York, form whence he had moved prior to the war. Bliss resubmitted a claim seeking compensation of $3,256.05. In addition to the original claim for lost personal property, he also claimed the loss of the house and barn of $1,700, lost fencing for $240, and $60 for lost hay and grain. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved of the claim, but when forwarded to the federal authorities, it was not acted upon. The Bliss descendants continued to pursue the claim until 1902, at which time the Theodore Roosevelt administration ruled that the government was not liable for damages resulting from "necessary military operations".

Here I need to give credit to my brother Guide, John Archer, for his work "Fury on the Bliss Farm at Gettysburg".
You have touched on something that is very important. The oldest joke in the Park Service is the one about the visitor who asks how come all Civil War battles were fought in National Parks. The arrival of an army was an all consuming incubus that left devastation in its wake. It is important for us to both tell the story of the battles & the lives of local people who were impacted by the war. My favorite local account is that of a young girl named Emma Lane. After an awful day of cowering with female relations in a house where the widows rattled from the fire of 20 pnd Parrott's from Fortress Rosecrans during the Battle of the Cedars, she still had to do her piano practice.
 

Rhea Cole

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I appreciate Tom Elmore's post. The people in Pennsylvania were victimized by the presence of the armies for only a few weeks. Just having an army march past the farm could be devastating. The Shakers at Pleasant Hill & South Union in Kentucky were looted by both armies & passing regular-irregular cavalry units. The interesting thing about the Shakers at South Union is that they very carefully catalogued the damage. They were meticulous, accurate & honest, which can't be said of every account. One interesting feature of the South Union Shaker's accounting is the amount of abandoned camp equipment & discarded meat they collected. They rendered down the pork that was left at the campsites to make soap. Every cloud has a silver lining.

The Ready family here in Murfreesboro TN is known for the marriage of their eldest daughter Mattie to John Hunt Morgan. The journal that her younger sister Alice kept in 1860-62 is unusually vivid. The Confederate cavalry that was stationed at the family farm ten miles east of town consumed everything, completely devastating the farm. Even their house in town was not safe from the ever hungry troopers. Her account of confronting a squad of Texicans who were looting the corn hidden in the ice house is very amusing. She was alerted by her slave Captain & ran out of the house without stopping to put on a bonnet or shawl. The captain sent her a formal letter of apology, which she graciously accepted. The family slaves self liberated or were in danger of being snatched by partisans for resale. At least they were paid for the items & labor requisitioned by the Union army. A hundred square miles of standing forrest near Murfreesboro was nothing but stumps by 1864. Whether the family received compensation or not, recovery from the devastation took decades.

<finding-aids.lib.unc.edu> The Southern Historical Collection, Collection Number: 01197-z, C. Alice Ready Diary 1860-1862

The stragglers & scalawags that followed Buel's advance through Middle Tennessee 1862 filled the vacuum left by both armies going to Kentucky. All along the line of march smoke rose from houses & barns set on fire by looters. Whether the perpetrators were nominally rebel or yankee was of no significance to the victims.

Johns Spence, A Diary of the Civil War

Two families in the Murfreesboro area had very different experiences with filing claims. Both of their very detailed accounts of damage & losses are about half an inch thick. The loyal Lamb Union family received a prompt settlement. The Maney family with rebel leanings fought it out for decades without receiving anything.
 
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Hag

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I appreciate Tom Elmore's post. The people in Pennsylvania were victimized by the presence of the armies for only a few weeks. Just having an army march past the farm could be devastating. The Shakers at Pleasant Hill & South Union in Kentucky were looted by both armies & passing cavalry units. The interesting thing about the Shakers at South Union is that they very carefully catalogued the damage. They were meticulous, accurate & honest, which can't be said of every account. One interesting feature of the South Union Shaker's accounting is the amount of abandoned camp equipment & discarded meat they collected. They rendered down the pork that was left at the campsites to make soap. Every cloud has a silver lining.

The Ready family here in Murfreesboro TN is known for the marriage of their eldest daughter Mattie to John Hunt Morgan. The journal that her younger sister Alice kept in 1862-63 is unusually vivid. The Confederate cavalry that was stationed at the family farm ten miles east of town consumed everything. Even their house in town was not safe from the ever hungry troopers. Her account of confronting a squad of Texans who were looting the corn hidden in the ice house is very amusing. She was alerted by her slave Captain & ran out of the house without stopping to put on a bonnet or shawl. The captain sent her a formal letter of apology, which she graciously accepted. The family slaves self liberated or were in danger of being snatched by partisans for resale. At least they were paid for the items & labor requisitioned by the Union army. A hundred square miles of standing forrest near Murfreesboro was nothing but stumps by 1864. Whether the family received compensation or not, recovery from the devastation took decades.
I worked at shaker village for some years in my youth as a living historian doing the horse work in the gardens and giving guided wagon tours... l remember reading in a journal from the Civil War era that one of the shakers wrote that they were growing three times the needed amount of every crop... a third for the thieves, a third for the varmints, and a third for their own use...
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I worked at shaker village for some years in my youth as a living historian doing the horse work in the gardens and giving guided wagon tours... l remember reading in a journal from the Civil War era that one of the shakers wrote that they were growing three times the needed amount of every crop... a third for the thieves, a third for the varmints, and a third for their own use...
Were you at Pleasant Hill? What a marvelous place that is to visit. It must have been a very gratifying place to do living history. The plant three times what they needed quip is a typically pragmatic Shaker solution.
 

JOHN42768

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Upstate N.Y.
I worked at shaker village for some years in my youth as a living historian doing the horse work in the gardens and giving guided wagon tours... l remember reading in a journal from the Civil War era that one of the shakers wrote that they were growing three times the needed amount of every crop... a third for the thieves, a third for the varmints, and a third for their own use...
Now that is a well thought out philosophy.
 

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