September 1863, The End Of Gettysburg's Longest Summer

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Letterman, mostly referred to in Gettysburg's local newspapers as General Hospital still housed over 1,000 wounded by September. Union and Confederate soldiers healed or died side by side. There may be wounded of both armies in this Tyson image.

July's great invasion of Pennsylvania had ebbed by September that awful summer of 1863. The back wash left a town called Gettysburg forever changed. Scorched earth where piles of dead horses and mules had been burned grew over green with milkweed, shallow graves of the fallen remained undisturbed a few weeks longer.
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Published again September 8th.

Churches began reopening after replacing blood soaked pews and carpets, glaziers and builders were still at work turning battle's debris back into homes and businesses, farmers assessed damages and sent claims that would be mostly denied and the trickle of tourists that had begun July 4th became a steady stream. Distant states sent delegations tracking their wounded.
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Relatives tried to locate missing loved ones. Sometimes a grave was all they could hope to find.
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An already shocking death toll grew. Disease from proximity to so much death began claiming civilians and men wounded 2 months before still lost their fight. The cemetery behind the General Hospital now overlooking Gettysburg extended rows as burial details continued to make sad trips. Shells fired in the heat of battle claimed victims two months afterwards. I don't know if this was Wesley's direct family or the usual cousins we see in towns where family roots ran deep.
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And this. A few nurses and relief agents spoke of disease's toll on Gettysburg civilians. That awful air and later, a mysterious affliction locals felt was caused by noxious chemicals used when sending bodies to their homes killed young women who'd been engaged in tending wounded and dying. Carrie Shead's sister and one of the Powers girls was on that list.

Yes, children died with more frequency 150 years ago. Not this frequently. Some townships were further afield here but we don't know where disease traveled and who may have come to Gettysburg to help. What an awful September. Willie, aged 6, Baby Mary, 7 months, Alexander, age 2, Fanny, age 3, Susan age 4, Anna, age 9 months, James, 7 months, Sarah, 2 months. Then there's Mrs. Julia, 33, Mrs. Susan 37- only one death in the ' Died ' section the week of September 8th, 1863 could be viewed as possibly ' normal ', 28 year old Noah could have died from the same mystery illness as Carrie's sister.
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Men well enough to travel were sent by train to Philadelphia or prison camps.
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David Wills planned the National Cemetery, McCaughy his new hotel. Elizabeth Thorn unbelievably hadn't finished her task burying men fallen inside Evergreen Cemetery.

And the war rolled on elsewhere.
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I'd like to look up some of these families like the Sells and other names making the Adams County Sentinel. Maybe with tomorrow's posts- there's a wonderful account of the banquet at Letterman and those who gave 1,000 plus wounded men a veritable party September, 1863.
 
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