The barn is private property today. The fields are leased out by the NPS so I was unwilling to trespass to get close-ups. The barn is in great shape with its familiar brown stone and white wood construction. There was a tremendous amount of fighting here in the fields during the first day of the war, making this one of the more notable Civil War sites, at least locally.
Edward McPherson's farm was a half mile west of Gettysburg, atop the ridge that also bears his name. The area was the scene of intense fighting on July 1st, 1863, as Confederate General Henry Heth's Division advanced towards Gettysburg against defending Union cavalry under General John Buford. Union reinforcements from General John Reynolds' First Corps arrived and counterattacked, and fighting swirled through McPherson's pasturelands and two fields planted in corn and wheat, as well as through neighbor John Herbst's woods. McPherson's barn became a place of refuge for the wounded, and continued as a hospital long after the battle ended.
McPherson was a lawyer and journalist who had served in the U.S. House of Respresentatives from 1859 until March of 1863. A Radical Republican, he had lost the1862 election, after which President Lincoln appointed him as Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue. John Slentz and his family were renting the McPherson farm at the time of the battle.
The barn is the last survivor of Edward McPherson's buildings, and was restored by the National Park Service in 1978. It is currently used by a local farmer who also leases the McPherson fields. Not surprisingly, the barn is also a contributing structure to historic district.
I found the following on Wikipedia (source cited below): On June 30, 1863, Union cavalry under John Buford camped on the large farm inherited by McPherson west of Gettysburg in Cumberland Township. The following day, Buford's men stubbornly held the ridgeline against Confederate infantry until reinforcements arrived, including the famed Iron Brigade. Fighting raged on McPherson's farm for much of the day, with thousands of men wounded or injured in the vicinity. The battle ruined the crops and pastures of McPherson's tenant farmer, John Slentz, and caused considerable damage to fences, buildings, property and supplies, for which McPherson was never compensated. McPherson sold the farm in 1868. The National Park Service bought the property in 1904 and now maintains the McPherson barn, which still stands on the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Edward McPherson Farm Barn is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D for association Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. It is listed as structure number 072.
From the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District nomination form:
During July 1 fighting here, barn was prominent landmark and used to shelter various Union regiments from artillery and small arms fire. Sharpshooters or snipers occupied barn and fired from embrasures located in gable walls. (CSA General Harry Heth later surmised he was wounded by a shot from this barn.) The position was overrun by overwhelming numbers of Conf. infantry on afternoon of July 1, stranding scores of wounded Union soldiers. These men lay unattended until July 6 when the barn and other McPherson buildings were hastily transformed into an emergency field hospital. Interior was modified in late 1970s with inclusion of I-beams in stable and reconstructed lean-to sheds on west side.
Short Physical Description:
2-story Pennsylvania bank barn, 61'x40'7", 33' high. N & S walls stone w/ 5 embrasures, E & W walls vertical board siding. 2 extended bays on W side. Earth bank to 2 large doors at center of 1st fl on W. Unequal pitch roof covered in wood shingles. E cantilevered Forebay overhangs 6'.
Long Physical Description
Barn (1811-1820) is a two-story frame and stone Pennsylvania bank barn on a stone foundation with a cantilevered forebay. It measures 61.0 x 40.6 feet. The north and south stone walls with five embrasures and the east and west walls have vertical board siding. It has an unequal pitched gable roof that is covered with wood shingles. The earthen ramp to the upper level is on the west.
2. NRHP Narrative
3. Civil War in the East