Oct 26



Henry J. Stahle, the editor of the Gettysburg Compiler, the newspaper associated with the Democratic party in Gettysburg, was arrested following the battle on charges of disloyalty while the Confederates occupied Gettysburg in July, 1863. It was later determined that the charges against him were politically motivated. Stahle was released from his imprisonment at Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Maryland at the end of July after taking the Oath of Allegiance, and giving his parole. He was not brought to trial.

Henry J. Stahle (1823-1892) was the editor of the Democratic Party newspaper in Gettysburg, the Compiler. He was imprisoned following the battle of Gettysburg for supposedly arranging for a Confederate doctor to help a wounded Lieutenant-Colonel, William Dudley (1842-1909) of the 19th Indiana, during the battle. Some individuals felt that Stahle, by revealing Dudley’s whereabouts to the Confederates, should be punished for aiding the enemy. Stahle was imprisoned at Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Maryland, where he was finally released at the end of July, 1863. Many people have written off Stahle’s imprisonment as local politics being a little too intense. The Gettysburg Republicans, it was said, turned in the Democrat Stahle to punish him for his views on the war. But is there more to the story than just “a baseless charge of disloyalty concocted by a local Republican for political revenge” as the wayside exhibit outside the Compiler’s location states?

See our post on the 19th Indiana (Iron Brigade) and Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley’s account of their fighting in McPherson’s Woods on October 8, 2008.



Stahle wasn’t only accused of revealing the location of Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley. He was accused of givng the Confederates information where other Union troops and property were concealed. Frances J. “Fannie” Buehler tells of Confederate soldiers entering her house at 112 Baltimore Street. In her reminiscenses written in 1896, she writes of taking care of wounded Union soldiers in her home. She then stated, “We had just gotten through with our first meal, on the first day’s fight, on the 1st of July, when our door bell was rung most violently and our alley gate shaken as if to force it off its hinges. I hesitated a moment, as to whether I should answer the bell or not.” The Buehler house was located to the left of the yellow tree, in the building with the red shutters. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“One of our wounded men, whose name it is not necessary to mention, said to me, ‘If I were you I would answer the door bell, if you do not, you may fare worse.’ Having no fear, I at once crossed the hall and opened the door.” This view was taken from the west facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“There stood three or four men, whom I at once recognized as Confederate soldiers, led by ‘Harry Gilmore,’ known in war times as ‘the Brigand Chief,’ from his style of dress. I had read of him and of his uniform, his cocked hat and feather, but I never expected to meet him face to face. He hailed from Baltimore, Md. Before I had time to speak, he accosted me, ‘Madam, you have Union soldiers concealed in your house, and I have come to search for them.’”



“I appeared very bold on this occasion, and said, ‘you are mistaken Sir: there are Union soldiers in my house, but none of them are concealed. They are all lying around on this first floor of our house, step in and see them.’” She allowed the Confederates to come into the house and allowed them to search it. Some of the Confederates recognized the wounded as United States soldiers whom they had previously met on picket duty. The Confederates stated that they were printing their parole papers, and would return to give the Union soldiers their parole, but they never returned to the house during the battle. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



So in 1896, Fannie Buehler doesn’t mention Stahle as having any connection with the Confederates coming into her house. However, one of the wounded soldiers in the Buehler house swore an affadavit that implicated Stahle in the incident. His statement is found in the National Archives on Microfilm Roll M345 National Archives and Records Administration, Union Provost Marshals’ File of Papers Relating to Individuals Civilians Microfilm Roll #255. The Buehler home is located on Baltimore Street across from the Adams County Courthouse. This view was taken from the southeast facing northwest at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



The affadavit was sworn at the Gettysburg Provost Marshall’s office on July 19, 1863: “Personally appeared before me Ralph S. Maclay Lt. Col. 86th P.V. and Provost Marshall of Gettysburg Pa Francis Williams a private of Company K 5th United States Cavalry who after being duly sworn according to law deposes and says that about the middle of June last he was detailed as cannoneer of Capt. Tidbalds [sic Tidball's] Battery in which capacity he was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg on the first inst.” On July 1, 1863, Tidball’s battery fought on McPherson’s Ridge. The McPherson Barn is in the background. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



At Gettysburg, Captain John C. Tidball’s battery was known as Calef’s Battery A, Second United States Artillery. This view was taken from the west facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“Shortly after being wounded he entered the house of David A. Buehler Esq. in the Borough of Gettysburg about one o’clock P.M. Up to four o’clock that afternoon some six wounded union soldiers and some six or seven other Union soldiers had congregated in this house.” This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“About four oclock that afternoon while looking out of the latticed window shutters of the story (?) window I overheard a conversation between a Rebel Lt.Col. and a citizen whom I afterwards recognized as Henry J. Stahle of Gettysburg.” These are the second story windows of the Buehler house. This view was taken from the southwest facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“These two persons came down from the direction of the Compiler printing office and stopped immediately in front of the house in which I was concealed.” The location of the Compiler building is the building in the shade to the far right of this photograph. The Buehler House is behind the yellow tree. This view was taken from the southwest facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



Here’s how the Compiler building looked in the nineteenth century. It was located at what is now 126 Baltimore Street. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast in 1895.



Here’s what the building on this site looks like today. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



In both pictures, embedded in the ground in front of the building, is Penelope. Penelope is a cannon that the Democratic Party used to fire in Gettysburg during various celebrations until it exploded in 1855. She was then buried in front of the local home of the Democratic Party, the Compiler. This view was taken from the north facing south at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“This Henry J. Stahle said to the Rebel Lt. Col. ‘Here are ninety-five Union soldiers in this house’ and pointing with his finger to the Hall door of David Buehler Esq. The Rebel officer replied ‘all right.’ This Henry J. Stahle further remarked to this Rebel officer ‘and I can take you where there are some stand of arms and whiskey.’ This view was taken from the southwest facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“Henry J. Stahle then turned on his heel and returned toward his office while the Rebel officer knocked at the hall door of Mrs. Buehler and afterwards rang the door bell.” The photographer is standing in front of the Buehler door looking to the Compiler office. The building where the Compiler was located is left of the green tree on the sidewalk. This view was taken from the north facing south at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“The door was opened and this Rebel Lt. Col. entered and captured the squad of Union soldiers in the house taking the names of all of them, stating that we would all be paroled.” This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



“This Henry J. Stahle was a stranger to me but I recognized him in the street and pointed him out to Miss Olivia (Elvira?) (Laura?) Freeman and also Mrs. David Buehler that evening who stated that his name is Henry J. Stahle at his residence in this Borough and am positive that he is the man who betrayed the Union Soldiers in the house of David A. Buehler Esq. to the Rebel Lt. Col. on the first of the present month.” Franics Williams could not sign his name, and made an “X” for his mark. The Freemans were Mrs. Buehler’s relatives who lived in New Jersey, and were staying with her that summer. Some of the Freemans also appear on the 1860 Gettysburg Census, and were staying with the Buehlers when the census was taken in June, 1860. The Buehler home is to the left of the yellow tree. The Compiler office is to the left of the green tree. This view was taken from the northwest facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



This account raises more than a few questions, and we have some more information in the National Archives files to share with you at a later date. For the moment, however, we wanted to present a side of the story that hasn’t received a lot of attention. Here is the wayside exhibit in front of the Compiler office location. This view was taken from the west facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008.


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