Dec 23



The James Pierce House was constructed in 1829, and was the home of one of Gettysburg’s most prominent citizens and his family. The most famous occupant of the home was Matilda Jane “Tillie” Pierce. Her account of the battle, written 25 years after the event, is one of the best known civilian accounts of the Battle of Gettsyburg. This view was taken facing west at approximately 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 21, 2008.

The James Pierce House at 301-303 Baltimore Street was the home to a writer of one of the most read civilian accounts of the battle, Matilda Jane “Tillie” Pierce. Tillie’s At Gettysburg: What A Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle has been reprinted at least seven times. The James Pierce House was restored to its 1860s appearance in 2007. This post (which most concentrates on the occupants of the house during the battle, and not Tillie who was at the Jacob Weikert House) has photographs taken Saturday the 20th, Sunday the 21st, and Monday the 22nd. The Sunday photographs were taken during a freezing rain and a little bit of snow.



The 1860 federal census shows that James Pierce was “white,” a Butcher, and that he lived in the same dwelling and was part of the same family with his wife, Margaret Pierce (1809-1881), born in Pennsylvania; James Shaw Pierce (1836-), born in Pennsylvania; William H. Pierce (1841-), born in Pennsylvania; Margaret A. Pierce (1846-), born in Pennsylvania; Matilda Jane “Tillie” Pierce (1848-1914), born in Pennsylvania; Franklin Culp (1848-), born in Pennsylvania; Eliza Fetterhoff (1812-), born in Pennsylvania. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 21, 2008.



His real estate had a value of $6000, and his personal estate had a value of $500. This total wealth of $6500 made James Pierce the second richest butcher in Gettysburg in 1860, and the 69th richest person in town (tied with Charles H. Buehler). This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 21, 2008.



In 1863 a row of Linden Trees (Basswood Trees) stood in front of the house. One might think that Pierce under reported his wealth on the 1860 census. He owned more than a few lots between Baltimore and South Washington Streets, including the property known as the Alexander Dobbin House and Barn from 1861 to 1866. This view was taken facing west at approximately 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 21, 2008.



The Tillie Pierce wayside on the sidewalk in front of the house is covered with the frozen precipitation of Sunday morning. This view was taken facing west at approximately 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 21, 2008.



The Pierces were Methodists, and James Pierce was listed on the 1854 and 1864 membership rolls of Gettysburg’s Methodist Episcopal Church on East Middle Street. James was very active in the community. He was not only active in the Methodist Church, he was a member of the Gettysburg Temperance Society, the Citizens Band of Gettysburg, and the Gettys Lodge of the Odd Fellows.This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



James Pierce is shown on the 1860 tax records as owning two and a half acres or lots in the Borough of Gettysburg, and a horse valued at $50.00. (A filly that Tillie Pierce had often rode, and that she considered “gentle and very pretty” was captured by the Confederates on June 26, 1863). James Pierce’s occupation of Butcher was valued on the 1860 tax records at $100. James Pierce appears as a “Gentleman” on the 1863 septennial census of taxable inhabitants. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



When the fighting approached Gettysburg, the sons were serving in the Union Army. James Shaw Pierce was with Company K of the First Pennsylvania Reserves (30th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment) of the Army of the Potomac. William H. Pierce was serving with the Army of the Cumberland in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. This view was taken facing west at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



The James Pierce House is closest to the camera. The Shriver House, featured in yesterday’s post, is the building with the blue shutters. The building between the Shriver and Pierce House did not exist until sometime after 1872 when James Pierce built it for his youngest daughter, Margaret A. Pierce. Before the Margaret Pierce House was built, battle damage on the south wall of the James Pierce House was very visible.  Tillie Pierce described 17 bullet holes in the “upper balcony.”  Bullets came into the house, and the back porch was “riddled.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



The James Pierce House/Tillie Pierce House was refurbished from 2005-2007. The Award was presented by Historic Gettysburg Adams County, or HGAC. The HGAC is a non-profit organization formed in 1975 to spearhead and coordinate efforts to preserve and restore the historic heritage of Adams County’s townships and boroughs. Its purpose is to foster and participate in the preservation, interpretation and welfare of the historic, architectural, scenic and culturally significant areas, districts, sites, structures, objects, and activities, and townscapes of the Borough of Gettysburg and Adams County, the Gettysburg National Cemetery and the Eisenhower National Historic Site, and to encourage their appreciation by the general public. This view was taken facing west at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



The James Pierce House is located on the southwest corner of Baltimore and Breckinridge Streets. It was a house and the location of the butcher shop in the 1860s. James Shaw Pierce and William H. Pierce, the Pierce sons, were listed as Butchers on the 1860 census. Tillie Pierce and her sister Margaret were listed as students. Tillie was a student at Rebecca Eyster’s Gettysburg Female Institute in the building once known as the Gettsyburg Academy, and helped greet John Buford’s cavalry there when they rode into town on July 1, 1863. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



When the battle began, Tillie Pierce left with Henrietta Shriver and her daughters to stay at the Jacob Weikert House on the Taneytown Road near the Round Tops. There they would perform nursing duties. James Pierce, his wife, Margaret, and younger daughter Margaret stayed in the home on Baltimore Street. James was shot at by one of the Confederates, and briefly taken prisoner by another squad of southerners. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



Five wounded Union soldiers were nursed by Mrs. Pierce in the house. During the battle, the occupants mostly stayed in the cellar during the daytime, and only ventured upstairs at night. However, Mr. Pierce did report that he and some of the wounded Union soldiers did observe Confederates Sharpshooters in the Shriver House firing towards the Union lines, and one was killed while Pierce was watching. Some of the Confederate Sharpshooters entered the Pierce’s cellar and took food, and one time asked Mrs. Pierce to cook for them. She refused. This view was taken facing south at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



As the Confederates were retreating on July 4, 1863, James Pierce picked up a musket which he later discovered was empty, and with it captured six Confederate deserters. Colonel William Colvill of the First Minnesota Regiment was brought to the Pierce House to recover from his wounds after the Confederates left the town. Mrs. Pierce, other nurses, and later Colvill’s sister took care of him in the house. He recovered and visited the Pierces in 1866. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



In the spring of 2008 an archaeological dig was conducted in the back yard of the Pierce House. Items found included several nails, a button, pottery shards, glass fragments of various sizes and colors, a hinge of some type, marbles, and many bone fragments of animals (this was a Butcher Shop after all), but no minie balls or shell fragments. This view was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



James and Margaret Pierce, and their son William, are buried in Section D of Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery. Culp’s Hill is in the right background. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 8:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2008.



James and Margaret were married in 1835. When the Civil War began, Margaret served as a manager of the Laies Union Relief Society of Gettysburg, a group dedicated to helping with the needs of local soldiers fighting on the front lines. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 8:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2008.



William L. Pierce served in Company E, 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment. He joined the unit on August 22, 1862, and was transferred to Company I at an unknown date. The unit fought in the western theater with the Army of the Cumberland at battles such as Stones River, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, the East Tennessee Campaign, Nashville, and North Carolina in 1865. William Pierce remained a Private throughout the war and was mustered out with his company on June 21, 1865. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 2:30 PM on Saturday, December 20, 2008.



To give one an idea where the Pierces’ graves are located, the Brown Family Vault at one of the highest points in Evergreen Cemetery and containing a wreath with a red bow is in the left background. The light colored Soldiers’ National Monument in the National Cemetery is in the right background. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2008.



Another angle has the grave of Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Wade with its American flag in the right background. The Soldiers’ National Monument is in the background above the Pierce’s Headstone. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2008.

See the following related posts:

Jacob Weikert Farm on April 5, 2008.
Gettysburg’s Civil War Methodist Church on April 25, 2008.
Gettysburg Diamond Christmas Lights on December 8, 2008.
Christmas Wreaths in the National Cemetery on December 9, 2008.
Some Christmas Decorations at the Nicholas Codori House on December 17, 2008.
Christmas Decorations at the Alexander Dobbin House on December 18, 2008.
A Couple of Christmas Decorations at the Henry Baugher House on December 19, 2008.
Christmas Decorations at the Gettysburg Academy on December 21, 2008.
Christmas Decorations on the Shriver House on December 22, 2008.


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