Confederates Take the Shriver House

Although some present-day visitors think of the Battle of Gettysburg as occurring only in the farm fields and wooded areas surrounding the town, in actuality the town itself was in the hands of the invading Confederate army. Many residents had either fled the town as the battle was approaching, or sought shelter in cellars. The Confederates would then make use of the unoccupied areas of the houses as they saw fit.

For those living along the higher elevations of Baltimore Street, this frequently meant that sharpshooters would take up positions inside the garret – what we, today, would refer to as the attic. Through either the garret windows, or through “portholes” knocked through the walls of the house, Confederate sharpshooters could take aim at Union troops posted on Cemetery Ridge.

Such was the case at the home of George and Hettie Shriver, located on Baltimore just a few yards south of the intersection of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets.  George was away fighting with Cole’s Cavalry, and Hettie and their two daughters, Sadie and Mollie, had fled to the assumed “safety” of  Hettie’s parents’ – Jacob and Sarah Weikert  -- farm about three miles away out the Taneytown Road.  In their absence, Confederate sharpshooters assumed positions in the garret.

James Pierce lived in the home directly north of the Shrivers. He reported to Hettie that on several occasions during the battle, he went to his garret window to watch the fighting in the street directly in front of their homes. From there he could see across into the Shriver home, and observed Confederate sharpshooters established in the Shriver garret.  At one point he saw a sharpshooter throw his arms into the air and crash to the floor; a short time later Mr. Pierce watched a dead soldier being carried through the family’s garden.  John Rupp, who operated a tannery down the street, told Hettie he knew of at least two sharpshooters that were killed in her home. In 2006, a CSI forensic test conducted in the Shriver garret confirmed the presence of blood, some 143 years after the battle. Numerous spots revealed evidence of blood splatter as well as the shadow of a wiping motion – likely  produced by someone attempting to wipe the blood from the floor.

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October 25, 2010