Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Their Contributions, Though Rarely Noted or Honored.'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Their Contributions, Though Rarely Noted or Honored.'

Article excerpt

During the three-day battle of Gettysburg, about 165,000 soldiers clashed in and around the small town, which then had a population of about 2,400.

When the battle was over on July 3, 1863, 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing, according to the Gettysburg Foundation.

And it took considerable time and effort to handle the aftermath of the battle.

"The first buildings that filled with wounded were the schools and churches, and it took some time to get them moved out," said John Heiser, historian for the National Park Service. "Many people who lived in town and on the outskirts lost everything. They filed claims to the government for things including bedding, clothing, livestock, farm equipment. But few recovered money from the government - they had to prove their losses were due to a Union order."

The George Rose Farm on the battlefield was occupied by Confederates, he noted. Bodies were still on the farm until July 7, four days after the Confederates retreated.

"As late as July 13, a visitor taking notes said he encountered George Rose complaining about unburied bodies in the grove," Mr. Heiser said. "Horses were killed and carcasses were left where they fell. Many times they were just burned. That smell mingling with the dead and flies in the heat, the conditions were ripe for disease - and it's surprising that disease wasn't more common during that summer."

Tending to the wounded and cleaning the carnage was a terrible task.

"For the average civilian in town - most were women - it was a horrible thing. You're dealing with wounded men in your kitchen, your hallway, and there's no one to care for them except you," Mr. Heiser said.

At the entrance of Evergreen Cemetery on Baltimore Street is a statue commemorating the work of one such woman, Elizabeth Masser Thorn. …

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