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Abraham Brian Farm House - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 48.934 W 077° 14.112
18S E 308682 N 4409677
Quick Description: The Brian House is an important Civil War site as it served as the 2nd Corps headquarters & was a strategic military position during Pickett's charge of July 3, 1863. The house is unique as its owner at the time of the Battle was a freed slave.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 10/1/2011 9:02:45 PM
Waymark Code: WMCQ1T
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Turtle3863
Views: 4

Long Description:

The Brian farm (or Bryan), built in 1800, is located on the Gettysburg battlefield just south of town and southwest of the of the old Cyclorama just past Ziegler's Grove. It was the home to Abraham Brian (often spelled Bryan), an African-American widower with five children who bought the farm in 1857 when he married his third wife, Elizabeth. The twelve acre farm grew wheat, barley and hay and had a small apple and peach orchard. The farmhouse was the headquarters of General Alexander Hays' Division of the Union 2nd Army Corps and was on the front lines during the fighting on July 2nd and 3rd. Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corp occupied his lands located just north of the Angle, the target of a significant portion of the Confederates during the Pickett / Pettigrew Charge. (The Brothers War - Citation Below) The house is reputed to be haunted.

(From Wikipedia - Citation Below): Abraham Bryan, or Brian was a free black man who owned a farm on Cemetery Ridge at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg near the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. During the battle, Bryan and several other blacks left the area to avoid capture and enslavement. Federal troops positioned around the Bryan House and barn were assaulted by Confederate troops under the command of J. Johnston Pettigrew. The small farm was the target of an attack by Mississippi troops. When Bryan returned after the battle he discovered his house was nearly destroyed; its walls filled with bullet holes, windows broken, and furniture tossed about. His fences were gone, crops trampled, and his orchard trees were useless. Bryan assisted in the reburial of Union soldiers and received $1/body, which were reinterred in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Later, Bryan filed a claim with the Federal government for damages to his property totalling $1,028 and received $15 as compensation for damage by Union troops. Bryan had purchased the farm in 1857 just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and his wife died soon after (he had five children). He then married a third wife.

The Abraham Brian Farm House is located on the east side of Hancock Avenue just past Ziegler’s Grove (the two share a common boundary), if you are traveling south down North Hancock Road. Draw the Sword, with descriptive help from the NPS site, offers the following narrative on this historic site: House figured prominently in Battle due to its position within Union line on Cemetery Ridge during 2nd & 3rd days of Battle. Area was used for defensive positions & house suffered from infantry & artillery fire. Used by Gen Hays for HQ after Battle. The house's construction is quite simple consisting of a stone foundation, wood walls and a shingle roof. That's about it.

There is a comprehensive interpretive in front of the farm house which reads:

"His property ... was thus under fire of the enemy and the very midst and thickest of the battle"
-damage claim of Abraham Brian

In 1863, this was the home and farm of Abraham Brian. He and James Warfield, who owned a farm and blacksmith shop near Seminary Ridge, were among a small, unique group of farmers on the battlefield. They were free black men, and they were property owners.

When the Confederate army invaded Pennsylvania during the summer of 1863, Brian and his family left the area. On July 2, Union soldiers occupied Brian's farm and home. They dismantled his fences to build breastworks, and trampled his crops. Heavy fighting raged around the farm, particularly on July 3 during the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge, exposing the home and buildings to musketry and shell fire.

Following the battle, Brian returned to begin repairs on his farm. Like nearly all the area farmers he filed claims (with the federal government) for damages. Out of $1028 requested, he received $15. Many farmers received nothing.

The damage inflicted by the battle did not discourage or ruin Brian. He rebuilt his 12-acre farm and prospered until his death in 1879.

The Abraham Brian Farm House is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. 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. The monument is identified as structure number 022.

From the Nomination Form:

House figured prominently in Battle due to its position within Union line on Cemetery Ridge during 2nd & 3rd days of Battle. Area was used for defensive positions & house suffered from infantry & artillery fire. Used by Gen Hays for HQ after Battle.

Short Physical Description:

1 & half story, 2-bay, frame, 25'x15', 21' high. Horizontal board siding, exterior fireplace stones exposed at E end. Porch & supported pent roof length of hs on S side. Gable runs E & W.

Long Physical Description:

One-and-one half story 2 bay wide by one room deep frame farm house, 25' x 15' x 21' high. Centered entrance flanked by 6/6 double hung sash. Flush laid horizontal siding, gable roof with wood shakes, Gable ends have two 2/2 double hung sash. One end gable internal stone and brick chimney stack with stones exposed on east end. Pent roof porch runs length of house on South side.


My Sources
1. NRHP Narrative
2. Wikipedia
3. Stone Sentinels
4. The Brothers War
5. Draw the Sword
6. Historical Marker Database

Yearly Operating Hours:
8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.- November 1 through March 31
8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.- April 1 to October 31

Related Website: [Web Link]

Terrain Rating:

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