Monday, December 9, 2013

Gettysburg's Battlefield Hotel - An interesting view, circa 1870

     I'm not saying I "discovered" this image, since it is in the collection of the Library of Congress, but I only happened upon it while browsing the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog the other day. Perhaps it has gone unnoticed till now. I have no idea, but I have not seen other published references. There is nothing in the catalog listing that specifically says "Gettysburg" that I can see, but it is quite clearly the structure that occupied the intersection of Baltimore Street and Emmitsburg Road, and was called the Wagon Hotel in 1863. It is well known to have been occupied by Union sharpshooters during the battle, and was promoted as such by the sign on the corner post at the stairs. The second floor windows are later additions to the southeast wall of the building as well as the extended porch which may have served as a loading dock, serviced by the side door which was a window in 1863. A northward view of this building, taken in 1865, is available for comparison on pages 96, 97 of William Frassanito's Gettysburg - A Journey In Time, published in 1975. Renamed the Battlefield Hotel to capitalize on its historic value with tourists, the original structure was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1895. Click on this and any of the other images for larger viewing.
The left half of the stereoview, seen in its entirety below.

No photographer's identification is apparent either on the front,
or the back of the card, seen below.

     Below is a view taken some years later (note the growth on the trees in front), from the GNMP's files according to Michael Waricher who posted it on his facebook page, Michael Waricher Battlefield Perspectives
     Below is a view of the same intersection as it appeared around 1948, also posted by Waricher, and assumed to come from the same Park files. This building was destroyed in 1949 and today the site of a convenience store and gas station, the Gateway Minimart, at 517 Baltimore Street. Emmitsburg Road, branching off to the right in these southward views, is known as Steinwehr Avenue today.
     Below, a variation of the previously mentioned photo examined by William Frassanito, and borrowed here for educational purposes, from an uncredited source posted in the website: Gettysburg Daily, in 2008. It is assumed to be from the same 1865 exposures attributed to Gettysburg's Tyson Studio, and is further discussed by Frassanito in his book, Early Photography at Gettysburg, published in 1995. The wartime structure is the dark brick building, seen on the left side of the image. The view is looking northward from Baltimore Street. Note as discussed previously, the absence of the second floor windows, and the first floor window that apparently was converted into a door for the later built side porch/loading dock.




8 comments:

Anonymous said...

John,
What is your 'best guess' on the year Michael Waricher's first picture was taken?
Regards
Bob Miller

John Cummings said...

Bob,
Based on the growth of the small trees in front of the hotel, I would have to "best guess" at 1886ish for the first image tagged to Michael Waricher. I would estimate the stereoview image as being about 1876 or so, looking at the clothes of the women on the second floor porch.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John!
So there really isn't a photo around showing ca 1863, huh?
Regards,
Bob

John Cummings said...

Bob,

Just the two views looking northward.

John

Anonymous said...

John,
Again, Thanks!
I had a GGfather in the 74 PAV Rgt /1st Bgde/3rd Division/11th Corps. It is my understanding that some men from this Rgt were sharpshooters using the 2nd floor windows of the Wagon Hotel to shoot into town. Was curious what the Hotel looked like to the confederates looking south . . .
Regards,
Bob

John Cummings said...

Bob,

From what I can see in the Tyson's Studio image, the only major difference in how the Wagon Hotel may have looked, as viewed looking south, was that the spindles of the front porch railing were not ornate like we see in the post-war photographs. And of course the non-existence of the further changes to the southeast wall. Additionally, there are no small trees decorating the lawn in front
Thank you for sharing your GGfather's experience.

John

Andy said...

This is fascinating stuff!
I have to confess I know very little about the American civil War. Great post. Thank you

Anonymous said...

John,
Here is more on the German Sharpshooters; it is a post from the MHO Gettysburg Forum written by (in my opinion) THE expert on the 74th PA:
Re: 5th Alabama Regiment, 5th Alabama Regiment Sharpshooters
Posted on: 12/22/2013 12:34:43 PM
Blackford's skirmishers and the 5th AL fought von Amsberg's brigade (and specifically the 74 PA) the entire battle, but particularly on July 1 in the fields north of town and then on July 3 inside the town. Skirmishers from the 61st Ohio and 74th PA pushed the Alabamans back up Oak Hill on July 1 until the front collapsed. My GGGrandfather was shot through the chest by an Alabaman on the first day of the battle; although he was left for dead, he survived. On July 3, Blackford's men occupied a line of houses in Gettysburg and tried to disrupt the Union artillery on Cemetery Hill, but failed to do so, in part because of the effectiveness of German sharpshooters of the 74 PA who were firing at them from houses and the Wagon Hotel in the south end of town, the Rupp house being the front line. Many, if not most, of the bullet holes that can still be seen in the Farnsworth house were made by these 25 German sharpshooters. While Union artillery did not fire into town, the rebels opened up on the town to try to silence the German sharpshooters, killing two when three solid shot smashed into an upstairs window of the Wagon Hotel. When those same 74 PA skirmishers pushed further into town in the wee hours of July 4, the 5th AL was gone, but they captured about 20-30 prisoners and discovered their commander General Schimmelfennig, who had spent the last two days hiding from Blackford's men only two blocks away from his own.
Regards,
Bob