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Gettysburg Then & Now Pt.2

Last time I blogged about the street fighting in Gettysburg at the Farnsworth House. Lets move down the street toward the town center to the next sharpshooter spot, the Shriver House. G.W. Shriver owned this commodious two story house tha also featured a saloon in the basement and a "ten-pin" alley in a shed behind it. Shriver, his wife Hettie and his two children left the house as the fighting surged nearer on July 1 and went to stay with some in-laws outside of town. Unfortunately for them the relatives' house lay between two low hills called Little and Big Round Top -- hardly the place to sit out the battle.

Confederate sharpshooters quickly took over Shriver's house, stationing riflemen in the garret above and knocking out loopholes so they could fire at Cemetery Hill. All evidence points to this being the headquarters of Major Eugene Blackford and his Alabama sharpshooters. The sharpshooters fared well in Gettysburg that day, helping themselves to the rich larders in the houses from which they fired. Blackford wrote his family that

I have never lived so high since I have been in the Army as we did those two days. My buglers, 4 in number, are all good cooks and, being perfectly devoted to me, you can imagine how I fared. They had nothing to do so I made them keep under cover, thus giving them ample time to prepare all manner of edibles: we have some five or six meals a day. If my conscience had been tender on this point it might have been quieted by the reflection that it was absolutely necessary, as no rations could reach us from the rear, there being nothing to protect the bearer from the fire of the enemy.

As senior officer Blackford also took command of some Louisiana sharpshooters from Hayes’s brigade who had set up headquarters in the parlor. There they were playing the piano, which, he noted, “sounded sadly out of harmony with the roar of musketry.” On a nearby table sat “a doz. brands of wines and liquors of which all partook freely.” The fun-loving Louisianans were greatly put out when Blackford insisted that they rejoin the fight.

Noah Andre Trudeau wrote an article (available at America's Civil War web site) transcribed from Blackford's diary and a postwar book by his brother William, giving an extensive account of the goings-on at the Shriver house, which has now been restored as a museum. Recent finds include some unfired .58 caliber rounds in the garrett.

Although two sharpshooters were supposed to have been killed in the garret , no dead are listed for the 5th Alabama during its stay in town, although two men were wounded -- both so badly they had to be left behind when the army departed two days later. These may have been the men hit by Federal fire in the garrett.

Both houses are worth a stop the next time you get up to Gettysburg.