We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot

Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gettysburg's forgotten civilian deaths

We've all heard about Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. But have you ever heard of Edward McPherson Woods?
Daniel Sauerwein over at Civil War History (awesome guy, awesome blog) wrote an entry about souvenirs and relics, which reminded me about a story I heard Patricia Anschuetz tell at one point. The story talked about how several boys were killed looking for souvenirs, a sad fact supported by reports from McCreary and Ziegler. Local youth ventured out into the fields after the battle to collect whatever they could find. But there were many unexploded shells scattered about, not to mention still loaded guns which made hunting for what are today relics extremely dangerous.
The only of these boys I have been able to find any information on whatsoever is Edward McPherson Woods. And his name is basically all I know about him. Other than the .pdf from Penn State that confirmed my information, there are no Google hits for "Edward McPherson Woods." The .pdf says that the boy's death was mentioned in the Star and Banner on July 9th, and was intended as a "warning to others who may be visiting the battlefield."
It wasn't only the Gettysburg youth who were in danger from the 24,000 hazardous items left on the fields; farmers were also killed by unexploded shells while plowing.
I am unable to find much information on any of this, especially how many were killed. I plan on researching it further, perhaps even having an adventure over at the Adams County Historical Society.

I would assume this was an issue that many towns faced after significant battles, but it is not frequently talked or written about.


Jessica said...

Wow, I guess it never registered in my mind that many other civilians were killed, just not during battle exactly. They tend to drill it into your head that Jenny Wade was the only one. Very interesting...

Don said...


Do you have access to the local newspaper records there in town? I'd bet a check of the month or so after the battle would turn up more of what you're looking for. It's probably going to take a few hours of staring at microfilm, though, as I doubt it's available online.

aerwaze said...

Thanks for the great info about Washington Square in Ottawa, Illinois. Planning to visit there in one year. Looks like well worth the stop.