Emmitsburg to Gettysburg – Photo Tour of the 17th’s March
On June 30, 1863 the XI Corps was camped for the evening in and around the small Maryland town of Emmitsburg, about 9 miles south of Gettysburg. The three divisions on the corps stretched for some distance north of town. It is still possible today to retrace the route taken by the 17th on July 1, 1863 and still see some of the same things the soldiers saw on the way. Still, time marches on and there have been significant changes in the landscape as well. The area to the north of town where Barlow’s division was encamped is, for the most part, overtaken by modern development. One can still cross Middle Creek and Marsh Creek – only now you will do it over modern bridges.
These photos were taken in August 2012. In some cases, such as the area north of Gettysburg where the 17th marched out of town and to the far right of the Union line, it requires some imagination to picture open fields where many homes and businesses now stand. In other places little has changed.
As time goes on appropriate comments will be added from the accounts left by those who were there – some photos have them now, and all will have some once finished.
Clicking on each photo will advance to the next photo, or you can just let the slideshow progress on its own.
View SE towards Emmitsburg
This view, taken from the top of Irishtown Road in Emmitsburg, shows the approximate area that Barlow's division spent the evening of June 30, 1863. Most of the area used by these troops is developed with houses and condominiums now. The church to the right is the Lutheran Church, rebuilt several times since the war, with St. Joseph's to the left. General Howard used the rectory of St. Joseph's as his headquarters.
Writing after Gettysburg as "High Private Manton" back home to Danbury, CT, J. Montgomery Bailey reflected on the night of June 30th:
"I well remember the night of the 30th of June. The sky was clear of clouds and filled with bright glittering stars. The moon threw a calm, mellow light over our camp, and the surrounding hills. We were lying at Emmittsburg in Maryland, near the Pennsylvania border."
View N from North Seton Road
There is still some open area around Barlow's encampment - this is the area around Flat Run. In 1863 North Seton Road was known as Gettysburg Road.
View NE from North Seton Road
Looking towards Route 15 from North Seaton Road showing some of the approximate area where Barlow's division camped on June 30, 1863. This is on the old Gettysburg Road near Flat Run. Monty Bailey gave this account of their departure from Emmitsburg and the march north to Gettysburg:
"We expected to be on the move at daylight the next morning, but for some reason were not. The delay offered us time to get a good breakfast, with milk in our coffee, a meal never to be forgotten by me, as after circumstances fully justified. At eight o’clock our corps was in line, taking the Gettysburg trail, left in front. My journal does not state the heat of the atmosphere, nor whether the sun shone, and it’s so long since that I have forgotten, but I well remember the march was very fatiguing. We marched moderately enough for the first hour, then I noticed a perceptible quickening in the pace — limbs began to waver, and the second hour developed some pretty evident weariness, something hitherto unknown among us. At one period while filing through a piece of forest, the low rumbling report of a heavy gun sounded afar off on our front."
N on Old Gettysburg Road leaving Emmitsburg
After leaving Emmitsburg, the 17th marched northwards to Gettysburg. This is modern-day Old Gettysburg Road just after crossing over Route 15. The route for Barlow's men would become difficult as they had to travel over roads that were heavily used by the men of Reynolds corps, marching in front of them.
N on Old Gettysburg Road at PA border
Continuing on modern-day Old Gettysburg Road, this follows the route of the 17th to the PA/MD border.
Approach to Middle Creek
The 17th, after crossing into Pennsylvania, crossed Middle Creek on the Emmitsburg Road on their march to Gettysburg.
General John Reynolds made his headquarters at Moritz Tavern on the Emmitsburg Road. The building still exists much as it did in 1863, although it is now surrounded by busy Route 15 and a new fireworks superstore immediately adjacent to it.
View north from Moritz Tavern
After passing Moritz Tavern the 17th would begin to march up several long hills, including the long grade seen in the distance just after they passed by the tavern.
Approaching Marsh Creek
Today a brand new bridge crosses Marsh Creek, located south of Gettysburg on the Emmitsburg Road. From the area of Marsh Creek onward, Barlow's division would be the sole XI Corps division using this road.
Emmitsburg Road approaching Gettsyburg
Once across Marsh Creek, the 17th continued its northward march. By this time it was possible to hear the sounds of the battle begun by Reynolds near Gettysburg.
From C. Frederick Betts: "“Starting from Emmitsburg early in the morning, my first vivid impression was produced by an aide who came galloping down the road with orders to hasten forward, and soon afterward I heard heavy firing. "
Emmitsburg Road passing Round Tops
Staying on the Emmitsburg Road, the 17th passed to the west of the hills we now know as the Round Tops.
Passing Rose Farm
The route passed by places that look similar today as they did in 1863. This is approaching the Rose Farm on the right. By now the battle was in sight.
Approach to Sherfy and Klingle farms
The Sherfy farm (left) and the Klingle farm (further down the road on the right) would be passed by the 17th as they marched at a much faster pace to the fields north of town.
Approaching Cordori farm
The Cordori farm, with its large barn, was a distinctive landmark then as it is now.
Emmitsburg Road near Bryan Farm
The regiment continued along the Emmitsburg Road, here passing the Bryan farm buildings on the right. Today this area marks the beginning of the commercial sprawl along modern-day Steinwehr Avenue.
Emmitsburg Road to Baltimore St
Although some histories state that Barlow's division turned onto Washington Street on its way north of town, the accounts by its members make it clear that the division did not do so but instead marched north along Baltimore Street into town.
Baltimore Street by Rupp
Once the 17th reached Baltimore Street they probably did not realize how soon they would see this area again. The Rupp tannery was located to the left (just out of the camera view) and the Welty house would have been to the right (out of view as well). The 17th would see these from a different perspective soon enough.
Baltimore Street approaching High Street
Continuing north on Baltimore Street - most of the buildings would be recognizable today to the soldiers of the 17th.
Baltimore Street approaching Middle Street
Continuing north on Baltimore Street, approaching the diamond. Many reminiscences of 17th CVI mention citizens offering water to the exhausted soldiers as they passed through the town, including this by Monty Bailey:
"As we passed through the principal street, the inhabitants thronged us with refreshments. The sight was a novel one, coming so unexpected, created quite an impression. I expected to find the place deserted, knowing that spherical case and “round solids” were not calculated to promote good fellowship, hence the surprise. One of the number, a young girl of no ordinary attraction, claimed my attention in particular. The reader will please recollect that it was no time for Cupidic emotions. She held a plate of cakes with one hand, the other being used in administering to the thirst of the wearied boys, from a pail that stood by her side.
Carlisle Street crossing tracks
Once through the square the 17th continued north on Carlisle Street, crossing the railroad tracks as they headed to the open fields north of town. Soon after the division began to march to the northeast to the far right of the Union lines.
View towards site of Almshouse north of town
This view is from the base of Barlow's Knoll looking towards the site of the old Almshouse. The modern buildings in the center are in the approximate position of the Almshouse, located north of town. To the left of the photo is the Harrisburg Road. The 17th, after leaving the town, would have crossed the fields behind the modern tree line from right to left in the direction of the Harrisburg Road.
Area of Crawford house NE of town
The Crawford home, the large white building in the distance, stood in 1863. The other buildings did not. The 17th would have come through this approximate area.
1850s map of area
This map shows how open the area north of Gettysburg was at the time of the battle. The Crawford house is probably the building shown just past the "V" of the Harrisburg Road. This also shows the lumberyard that is mentioned by several 17th CVI soldiers as they retreated back to town later.
Area south of Stevens Run
This is the area just south of Stevens Run (now shown on signs in the areas as Old Almshouse Run). The 17th crossed this small stream as it neared its first position north of town.
1st position east of Harrisburg Road looking NE
The 17th crossed Stevens Run and marched to the east side of the Harrisburg Road, in this general location. The fields of 1863 are now covered by a school and commercial strip mall. This view looks from Stevens Run to the northeast.
1st position east of Harrisburg Road looking SW
This view, taken from the west side of the road, shows the approximate location of the 17th, looking southwest towards Stevens Run.
2nd position west of Harrisburg Road looking N towards knoll
The 17th would be ordered to change positions several times as they were held in reserve at the start of the fight. One of those positions was in a grain field west of the road and north of the Almshouse. Today these fields are planted with corn.
Route of 4 companies towards Rock Creek
4 companies of the 17th volunteered to act as skirmishers for the brigade, moving north on the Harrisburg Road to hold the bridge over Rock Creek, seen in the distance. From Monty Bailey:
"Major Brady was ordered to take four companies out as skirmishers. Cos. A. B. F. and K. volunteered to go. I was heartily glad at their willingness, being so exhausted I could hardly move, and their going relieved us from what we should otherwise have had to do."
This is Rock Creek, crossed by the 4 detached companies under Major Brady. The knoll where the rest of the regiment would later be deployed is to the left behind the trees. This area is considerably overgrown and is best traversed in the winter!
The 4 companies would deploy in and around the Josiah Benner farm, which looks very much like it did in 1863.
Benner Farm looking south
This is the Benner Farm, looking south. Barlow's Knoll is beyond the house on the other side of Rock Creek.
Final position before knoll looking to knoll
This is the approximate position of the remaining 6 companies of the 17th, commanded by Lt. Col. Fowler just before being ordered to the knoll itself. The knoll is the higher ground to the right.
Final position of the 17th prior to movement to knoll
The monument in the distance is that of the 58th NY. This swale contained a small stream crossed by the 17th while moving to their final position before being ordered to the crest of the knoll, which is to the right out of camera view.
Base of knoll looking north
This is the approximate view the 17th would have had as they were ordered to move to the support of the artillery on the top of the knoll.
Terrain passed on route to knoll
Taken from the area of the flagpole on Barlow's Knoll, this shows the area over which the 6 companies advanced over.
Route to final position
This is the approximate view (minus the park road) that the 17th would have seen as they advanced to the support of the artillery posted at the crest of the knoll.
Knoll looking towards Blocher farm
To the northwest one can see the farm of David Blocher - who in the postwar years would be the caretaker of the flagpole installed by the veterans of the regiment.
Knoll looking towards Rock Creek and Benner Farm
The much heavier tree line screening the modern-day view of Rock Creek (and the Benner Farm just beyond it) from the position of the 17th on Barlow's Knoll.
17th position on Barlow's Knoll
The flagpole marks the approximate location where Lt. Colonel Douglas Fowler was killed by artillery. The monument to the right marks the approximate location where Captain James Moore of Company C was killed soon afterwards.
Stratton Street retreat route
After the Confederates overwhelmed the forces on Barlow's Knoll and the surrounding area, retreats both organized and disorganized ensued. Many soldiers of the 17th, after trying to rally near the Almshouse, retreated back towards town on streets like Stratton Street. This is Stratton Street looking south towards Cemetery Hill in the distance.
View towards Carlisle Street and lumberyard area
Many 17th soldiers crossed back into town the same way they left it on Carlisle Street, which is in the distance by the railroad station. The lumberyard that is mentioned by "Monty" Bailey would have been along these tracks just beyond Carlisle Street.
East Cemetery Hill towards Welty house
After the 17th had reformed on East Cemetery Hill, they advanced to a fence facing the town along the north end of the hill. There they traded shots with Confederates positioned in and around the Rupp family tannery and the Welty house. Although the tannery no longer exists (the current Rupp house is postwar construction, the Welty house still stands as part of the Brickhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast.
The land over which the 17th advanced and fought is now under the parking lot of the 1863 Inn (the old Holiday Inn) and the Gettysburg Battlefield Tour facility. It takes quite a lot of imagination to picture this area as it was.
Welty house south to Cemetery Hill
It takes just as much imagination to picture the view from the Confederate position towards the position of the 17th, but you can still see the Welty house up close (and stay there as well).
South towards Cemetery Hill position
The view from the parking lot of the hotel, if nothing else, shows what is left of the grade from the area of the 17th's position at the fence back towards the bulk of the XI Corps on East Cemetery Hill. Baltimore Street is to the right of the photo (out of view).
1863 map section
The area covered by the previous photos is that area from the Welty house down - all open in 1863.
17th monument from East Cemetery Hill
The 17th CVI monument stands at the base of East Cemetery Hill where the old Brickyard Lane ran (now the park road Wainwright Avenue). The monument was placed at the location that the 17th was positioned prior to their move to the "far right."
View from artillery position on East Cemetery Hill
This view, from the position of Cooper's Battery, shows the approximate area that the 17th CVI was moved to late in the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Major Brady's report indicates as the attack commenced in the early evening hours the regiment "compelled" a large group of stragglers into their lines. More than likely these "stragglers" were actually the returning skirmishers of the 41st NVYI.
Probable position of 17th CVI late afternoon July 2
This view shows the line along what was then Brickyard Lane fronting the right of Von Gilsa's brigade. The 17th CVI, when transferred to the "far right of the line", was most likely sent to the right of Von Gilsa's weak line to bolster it.
The curvature in the photo is due to the stitching together of several photos to create this view.
Probable position of 17th CVI late afternoon, July 2
This view shows what the probable position of the 17th was on the late afternoon of July 2, 1863 after the regiment was moved to the "far right of the line." Most histories indicate that the regiment moved to the right of the 2nd Brigade line, but it is far more likely that based on Major Brady's report and the accounts of the soldiers of the 17th, the regiment was moved to the right of Von Gilsa's 1st Brigade line in the area of the 41st NYVI position. This view was taken from the fields from which the Confederates attacked Von Gilsa's position.