Gettysburg Tales - Post 1

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Sergeant Major
Jan 17, 2012
Major Henry Kyd Douglas recalled " While we were near Chambersburg, a little incident occurred which indicated what a tender memory and stern sense of duty General Jackson had left behind him. Captain Sandy Garber, Assistant Quartermaster of the Second Corps, had been spending the evening in Chambersburg and was returning late at night to his camp. He was halted at the outposts. Having neither pass nor countersign, in his dilemna, he produced an old pass signed ny General Jackson from his pocketbook and handed it with great confidence to the sentinel on post. The trusty fellow managed to read it by the light of a match and lingered over the signature. Then, as the light went out, he handed it back and looking toward the stars beyond, he said, sadly and firmly, "Captain, you can go to Heaven on that paper, but you can't pass this post."

(From "On The Bloodstained Field" - Gregory A. Coco)


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under the bridge
Post 2
This tale has nothing to do with The Battle but still note worthy.

"Dowse-the-Glim Cave," Culp's Hill, Gettysburg
Article by George F. Nagle
The Beta Deltas were a group of thirty-three Pennsylvania College students, members of the classes of 1858 through 1862, who formed an unofficial and unsanctioned fraternity at the college. In a reminiscense published in 1902, fraternity member J. Howard Wert recalled that the organization was "a source of unmitigated annoyance" to town and college officials due to their "wild...and law defying" behavior.
Known by outsiders as the B.D.s, and internally as the Black Ducks, members kept an apartment, dubbed by them "the slum," on the second story of a frame building on East MIddle Street in Gettysburg, directly across the street from the Methodist Church. They also maintained additional rendezvous spots around town and in the surrounding countryside that generally were known only to the group leaders.
One of these secret spots was located well outside of town on the summit of Culp's Hill. It was a natural cleft between two very large boulders, which five members of the fraternity labored to convert into a "cave." Wert described it in a 1904 article:
"It's a mile over there, right on the crest of Culp's Hill. There were two rocks parallel with each other, about five feet apart, that rose to the height of ten feet. The sides were as regular as if adjusted with a plumb line. We walled up one end. At the other, the rapid rise of the hill brings the ground up to a level with the top of the rocks. We made a roof over the same space between the rocks with a heavy corn wood. All artificial work was heavily banked and covered with earth, and this again the leaves in great masses. There is one carefully concealed entrance at the point where the upward swell of the hill gives a steep descent into the rayless dungeon."
This manmade cave was christened "Dowse-the-Glim Cave" by the Ducks, and its creation was solely intended to give privileged fraternity members shelter from the outside world. It would soon play a more humanitarion role, however.
In December 1859, around Christmas time, some of the Black Ducks were celebrating the holidays in the "Slum" when a member brought news of a fugitive slave that he had found wandering, frightened, through the snow-covered streets of Gettysburg. The freedom seeker had been hiding in one of the "shanties on the lane [in] back of Washington Street," when a slave catcher, accompanied by a U.S. Marshal had begun searching the neighborhood, thus forcing the fugitive back into flight. The college boy found him, cold and hungry, and had brought him to the East Middle Street apartment.
After some spirtited discussion as to what course of action to take, it was decided to take the fugitive to the Culp's Hill location, which was unkown to all but a half-dozen of the Black Ducks. There, securely hidden and insulated by the earth and leaves, the fugitive stayed for two days, until the Ducks made contact with some Quaker activists in nearby York Springs.Wert presumed that the Quakers, most likely William and Phoebe Wright, then sent the fugitive on to Harrisburg.
The two-day delay in forwarding the slave may have been caused by the unfamiliarity of the Black Ducks with the local Underground Railroad network. Wert himself stated that "the majority of them would have scorned the appellation of abolitionist, and rejected with scorn the idea of becoming agents of the Underground Railroad."Although their attitudes reflected the regional distate with abolitionism, their encounter with an actual freedom seeker, with whom they shared food and drink before hiding him, opened their eyes to an issue that could no longer be ignored.
Over the next two months, as word of their actions filtered into the Gettysburg African American community, they became increasingly involved in hiding runaways. One of their chief contacts appears to have been John "Jack" Hopkins, an African American custodian at the college. Hopkins was believed to have intercepted runaways who traveled along the unfinished railroad line that ran from Thaddeus Stevens' Caledonia Iron Works, and terminated near the college buildings. As an employee of the college, Hopkins could easily contact one of the Black Ducks, who would then make arrangements to secretly transport a recently-arrived fugitive out to Dowse-the-Glim Cave on Culp's Hill until a safe journey to York Springs could be made.
Dowse-the-Glim Cave can still be easily viewed today,although few people know its location. Ironically, it lies within a few yards of one of the most famous and heavily-visited Civil War battlefield sites: the summit of Culp's Hill. The artificial roof and end wall of the hideout were destroyed by the Union troops that occupied the slopes of Culp's Hill during the battle, and the distinctive space between the rocks has been largely filled in over the years. It remains, however, as a testament to the efforts of a select group of college students to defy the law and the prevailing social attitudes of thier community, and do right for some of their fellow men.
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