The George Rose Farm
“ A Fearful Din”
During the battle of Gettysburg, Dorothy and George Rose resided on the farm containing over 200 acres with animals, garden, orchards and wheat fields surrounding a large bank barn built in 1812 and a well kept home built in 1811. Located on the Emmittsburg Road, close to the center of the converging armies, destiny would forever change this idealic setting into a living hell then ultimately a place of peace and remembrance.
During the ensuing battle, over 20,000 men engaged in brutal and often had-to-hand combat leaving over 6,000 killed or wounded. This famous farmhouse and barn provided shelter to the Confederates of Semme’s and Kershaw’s Brigades, and the buildings were used as Confederate field hospitals. It is estimated between 500 and 1,000 Confederate soldiers were buried on the property. Some of the most famous photographs after the battle were taken here by Alexander Gardner.
Mr. John B. Linn of Union County, Pa., a 31 year old attorney and amateur historian, visiting the battlefield on July 6, a short time after the battle, found what he considered hideous sights upon the fields. After roaming the fields of the Rose Farm, Linn chronicled the scene.
“We soon came to the marks of a fearful contest, hats with holes in them, rebel canteens, over-coats, torn clothing, dead horses, broken gun cartridges, letters, torn knapsacks and haversacks strewed the road. About a half a mile from town was the grave of Col. J. Wasden, 22 Georgia Volunteers……This was on the left of the road a little further on and more to the left were 15 unburied rebels. We walked to look at them, they were swollen large as giants (and) black in the face, but seemed to me to have an individuality which would render recognition by their friends even then possible……Saw the graves of D. W. Cross, Co. E, 15th Massachusetts, J. Bradley, Co. I, 15th Massachusetts. Further on passing along (near a) parapet made of fence rails, mud, and knapsacks filled with earth on the right side of the road. We came to what was once Joseph Sherfy’s peach orchard. The house was terribly used up by shell……Four feather beds…..were soaked with blood and bloody clothes and filth of every description was strewn over the house…..Their (Sherfy’s) barn was burned down during the fighting. We proceeded about ½ mile beyond to (the) farm of Mr. Rose his brick (stone) house and large stone barn are to the left of the road (about the) width of the field from it. Here to the North of his barn we counted 33 graves of the 12th South Carolina Volunteers. They were only slightly covered with earth and you could feel the body by pressing the earth with your foot. One man’s left hand (J. B. Robins Co. I, 8 S.C.V.) stuck out of the grave like an old parched well worn buck-skin glove. A little further across the fence was the grave of J. W. Weldon 53rd Georgia, near him was that of Capt. J. M. Debond 53 Georgia Co.I. On the other side of the barn and lane under a pear tree was the grave of Capt. T. J. Warren, 13th South Carolina Vol. and in his garden Mr. Rose told us were buried 10 superior officers colonels, majors, etc. That morning he had removed them for fear of injury to the water of his well to a ravine in the woods ½ mile East of the house where he placed their headboards beside them and left them unburied not having enough strength or means to bury them. He pointed out his wheat field and said over 50 rebels were lying in there still unburied. The rain slacked up and we returned picking up some letters, cards and cutting off some buttons for relics of the fight. On our way in Goodman picked up an Enfield rifle for a trophy. I found a testament with the names T. C. Horcraft, 34th Regt. N.Y.S.V. Excelsior eagle and shield, on the next leaf was written “David Mitchell” 105 Virginia Regt. I picked up a letter from a boy to his father evidently stained with his father’s blood contents very interesting, it is among the relics I have from the field. Also one from a girl to her lover.”