Plate 43. Headquarters Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, during the Battle of Gettysburg

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
Just back of the cemetery at Gettysburg, on the road leading to Taneytown, stands a humble dwelling, made historical by its occupation as headquarters of General Meade. This officer having assumed command of the Army of the Potomac at Frederick, thirty miles distant, immediately sent out the several Corps on different roads towards Harrisburg, with orders to attack the enemy wherever he might be found. On the first of July, Reynolds, with the First Corps, engaged the Confederates at Gettysburg, and after a gallant struggle, in which that officer was killed, the Corps, reinforced by the Eleventh, retired to the strong position on Cemetery Ridge. General Meade first heard of the engagement and its result at Taneytown, ten miles away, about sundown. Orders were at once despatched [sic] for the other Corps to march for the scene of action. The headquarters camp was struck, tents and wagons were sent back to Westminster, and shortly after midnight the General and staff pushed on to Gettysburg, establishing headquarters at this house.
The second of July was one of the most lovely days of the season, and, with the exception of occasional shots between the advanced picket lines, remained perfectly quiet until three o'clock. The headquarters, however, throughout the day presented a most animated appearance. Commanding officers and couriers were constantly arriving and departing, while the staff officers and escort lounged in the shade about the house, or slept on the green turf, gathering strength for the conflict momentarily expected to commence. In the afternoon, Sickles, with the Third Corps, was attacked by the enemy, and the battle finally became general, the First, Fifth, Sixth and Eleventh participating, with the Second and Twelfth in reserve in the rear of the right wing. The headquarters, from its exposed position, at once became the centre of a terrible artillery fire. Shot and shell plunged through the building in quick succession, and made sad havoc with the group about it. In a few minutes a number were killed, and the General was soon compelled to withdraw, leaving dead and struggling horses on every side. On the third day the house was exposed to even a more severe fire, which threatened to utterly annihilate it. Immediately after the battle, the owner returned, repaired the damages, and the building now promises to stand for many years, bearing the scars of that fierce conflict.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
date made
Gardner, Alexander
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 22.86 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Gettysburg
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Gardner's Sketchbook
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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