Pinpointing Two Union Soldiers Alongside Sherfy’s Cherry Tree on July 2 and 3

Tom Elmore

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Jan 16, 2015
It is very rare to locate a particular soldier at a precise spot on the battlefield at Gettysburg. Some examples were previously cited in: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/pi...-positions-at-gettysburg.169225/#post-2201832

So, just imagine the odds of finding two soldiers from different commands who occupied the same spot, on different days, along with an accompanying post-battle image!

Private Ellis C. Strouss of Company K, 57th Pennsylvania recalled his fighting against Barksdale’s brigade on July 2: “The writer [Strouss] had posted himself by a large cherry tree against which some fenceposts were leaning, on the north side of the house [of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Sherfy]. … On the afternoon of the 6th [July] the writer took a stroll out to the Sherfy house to look at the ground there. … It was then that I discovered the cannon ball in the cherry tree, mentioned above, by which I had been standing during the fight on the 2d. The ball was from our own guns, and no doubt struck the tree during the fighting of July 3d, or on the afternoon of the 2d after our men had abandoned the house.” (Account of E. C. Strouss, History of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, by James M. Martin, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/58315/58315-h/58315-h.htm - Strouss rose through the ranks to become a captain in the 57th.)

Sergeant William K. Haines of Company I, 5th New Jersey gave us the rest of the story. After being badly wounded on July 2 and left behind on the field, he found himself a prisoner behind enemy lines when he awoke the next morning, July 3. He hobbled 200 yards to a brick house with an adjacent barn (that burned down that day), which must be Sherfy’s. Haines was an eyewitness to the Confederate cannonade, writing: “One shot of ours dismounted a rebel gun, near where I sat behind a cherry tree, exploded the caisson and killed - or wounded so they had to be killed - all 6 of its horses. By jingo said I, that was a royal good shot, and the rebels near me cursed me so that I kept quiet, but it was hard to keep still. Pretty soon plump came a round shot into the tree I was leaning against and stuck fast in it.” (Diary of Sergeant William K. Haines, Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives, New Brunswick, NJ; a typewritten and expanded version by Haines was later published by Mary O. E. Switkay, 1966, Library of Congress. Haines confirmed that the round shot - intended for the Confederate artillery - was fired a Federal battery during the cannonade, between 1 and 2:30 p.m. on July 3.)

Sherfy’s cherry tree was afterwards immortalized in a stereo view done by William H. Tipton, leaving us a visual record to augment the accounts of Private Strouss and Sergeant Haines - see attachment. (Tipton’s life and work were detailed in William Frassanito’s Early Photography at Gettysburg.)

GettysburgCherryTree.jpg
 
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Joined
Jul 22, 2021
It's one of the reasons I have such high regard for William Frassanito’s work. I have his books on Antietam and Gettysburg and I go back to them often.

This is a fascinating pinpoint but I don't recall this tree addressed by Frassanito. Maybe it's in an earlier book he published? All I can say is it's a good thing it wasn't an exploding munition! I also agree that was some cherry tree!
 
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